Finding Joy

I have a confession to make: I have a hard time finding joy in Christmas.

It wasn’t always like this. I used to love hiking through a snow-covered forest to find the perfect tree, bringing it home, making hot chocolate while waiting for the tree to “fall” and decorating.  We’d make gingerbread houses from scratch thanks to a fail-proof recipe and directions from Canadian Living and spend the evening staring at the tree and watching classic movies. A few years ago, I started to find it harder to find the joy in what I perceived to be  the extra “work” that went into the season. I started to feel frustrated about the expectation that the shopping, decorating and the creation of a massive meal, including homemade trifle, and clean-up,  seemed to fall squarely on my shoulders while others relaxed by the fire. I’ll leave my feelings on forced frivolity and over-the-top consumerism for another time.

This year I decided, for the sake everyone’s sanity, I would stop trying to be Martha Stewart and scale back on my expectations of myself.  And it was a wonder how much easier and more enjoyable the holidays were. I also decided that instead of working the week between Christmas and New Year’s, as is my custom, I would take my kids down to the Himalayan Institute as part of their Christmas present. This wasn’t their first trip down and I was thrilled they were looking forward to the time away as much as me.

Something magical happens when you make your way down the hill to the Main Building. It’s almost like this invisible cocoon starts to wrap its arms around you in a gentle hug, and this transformation begins. Moment by moment, you feel the weight of the world slowly ease away.  You find yourself smiling at everyone in the halls, holding doors open for others, helping people up and down the stairs that need some extra support. You find there is no impatience with yourself, or with others. You find the time to do the things you always want to do. Like puzzles with  your children and morning hikes to the pond and forest. Or trips to Moka, the on-site chocolate boutique to savour the most decadent chocolate to ever tease your taste buds. Self-judgement and criticism become distant memories. My children, too, melted into the Grace of the Himalayan Institute. They welcomed the opportunity to have “quiet time” and voiced how nice it was to just be able to BE.  They love the gentle rhythm that is HI. I love the fact that they are happy to visit and appreciate the wonder of such a place.

I’ve written before about what a miraculous place the Himalayan Institute is and this trip, again, provided another miracle. It gave me the opportunity to find Joy. For that I am grateful beyond words.


If you’d like to experience the magic of HI, please follow this link:

Retreat Center


Until next time, may we be the Light,