The dictionary defines delight as ‘great pleasure.’
But I love the word delight because it implies wonder. It vibes a child-like quality of eyes wide open and of heartfelt smiles. Sometimes it’s giddy and bubbling while other times it’s a peaceful sigh of ease. Many times I find delight rushes in unexpectedly like a sweet surprise from the Universe.
I know that during the holiday season when the day is as likely to bring stress as pleasure, a moment of delight may seem a bit elusive. Who can be delighted with an endless to-do list, unexpected weather messing with the roads and schedule, various people pushing your buttons and the memories potentially knocking on your heart? No matter the intention, it’s challenging to make it to through the holidays without a bit of bah-humbug.
But I’m reaching out today with a most sincere prayer. I’m writing to offer you this blessing:
May you know many moments of delight this holiday season.
And if you’d like to kick back for a moment, I’d love to inspire you with a story.
It bubbled up just this past week. This memory. From when I was in grade school. I think I was in 4th grade. I recall the old hardwood floors of the classroom. Hardwood floors with boards that had popped up and drifted down from each other over time but still glistened with layers of wax from the school custodian’s annual work.
I liked school well enough. English - that’s what we called Language Arts back then - better than Math which is still called Math, I’m afraid! I did my homework, raised my hand and was considered a ‘good student.’ However, I was always anxious. Always. The tight presence of expectation always in my stomach. I was nervous even when I could have been confident.
But this 4th grade was a little bit better for one silly little reason. Colored paper. Somehow, even without a Target, colored paper came to town. I’m not sure where my mom bought it. And frankly, I’m not sure why she bought it. We weren’t frivolous people. And colored paper by most measures is frivolous.
However in 1972 when I was in the 4th grade, I got colored paper. The pack of paper came with an equal number of blue pages, green pages, pink pages and purple pages. Purple paper!! Ooooo! Delight!!
Exactly as I described above. I felt both the giddy bubbles and the pleasant sigh of wonder. It was a surprising sensation that washed up without my invitation. I mean, it was just paper. Purple paper that made my eyes sparkle and my heart happy. Purple paper that made my essays pour from my pencil and my math problems align with accuracy.
That year me and homework got along famously. The colored paper eased my anxiety. The purple, the pink, blue, green……but especially the purple. They created a beautiful backdrop on which the requirements of elementary school became delightful…or at least do-able.
No more chewing my hair and picking my nails. No more nervous stomach waiting to see the red letter grade on the top of the page. Instead, I sat eagerly awaiting my purple, my blue, my green, my pink to return home to me…no matter the grade. With colored paper, I could roll with this 4th grade life.
Now what does this have to do with the holiday season? Well, get your colored paper kiddos!
My suggestion is simple: Let’s practice interacting with the season from a place of delight as if all of our holiday homework could be written on colored paper.
Because seriously the purple paper was a placebo. It did nothing magical or mystical to my homework. It merely provided a background of delight from which I found comfort from the stress of grade school.
So my gift of inspiration is to ask you: What is your purple paper?
How might creating a background of delight help you find comfort from the busy-ness and stress of the holidays? What will attune you to the opportunities for wonder and joy?
Here’s are a few of my suggestions for noticing:
The snow that blankets the trees.
The sparkle as the colored lights reflect from the windshield of the car.
The memories that hang from the tree.
The colored candles with flickering flames on the menorah.
The shapes and colors, textures and tastes of the cookies.
The feeling of sweatpants and an evening on the couch.
The glitz of a holiday sweater and an night out with friends.
The smile of a stranger when you hold the door open.
The fussing of a baby, the laughter of a toddler, the patience of a mother as they work their way through their shopping.
Certainly my delights will be different than yours. But if you’d like we can practice together.
Let’s see if we can be clever enough to catch a few moments of delight in each task, each conversation, and each day. Let’s have a delightful holiday.
Because that’s my wish for you.