Discussing the idea of moderation during this holiday season is pretty timely, I'd say. And this elf is a perfect example. My husband and I halfheartedly brought him into our lives five or so years ago, because our household seemed to be the only one in our kids' biosphere that did not have an Elf of the Shelf.
Enter: "Elfie," my holiday nemesis.
For those of you unfamiliar with Elf on the Shelf, we will call you "The Lucky Ones." Please allow me to fill you in on what is missing from your lives. The Elf magically arrives in your home on December 1 each year. Every night, after everyone has gone to bed, he (or she...because we did not get suckered into getting Elfie a sister, but some people we know did) flies to the North Pole to fill in Santa about the activities of the children in the house. Were they good or bad that day? Then The Elf flies back to your home, positioned in a different place and position (and sometimes a very clever position....if you are an overachiever parent....We are not) each and every morning until Christmas Day, when The Elf blessedly leaves your home until the next year.
Other important information about The Elf:
- The Elf's magic diminishes if anyone touches The Elf.
- The children of the household will spring out of bed every morning, eager to find The Elf.
- If a child discovers that The Elf is still in the same spot as the day before on a particular morning (or on several particular mornings, as the case may be), the parents of the household might have checked the weather report between your house and the North Pole the previous night and advised The Elf to "call it in" to Santa for that night to avoid frostbite or being blown off course by the jet stream. (You're welcome.)
- The children of the household might sometimes try to send a note to Santa via The Elf. If the note is still at your house in the morning, the children will think that Santa is mad at them. Sometimes this makes the children cry and upsets the already delicate morning routine of the household.
- The children of the household will begin talking about the annual Coming of The Elf at around Thanksgiving and will mourn his departure each Christmas morning, despite the presents under the tree and the strategic evidence that Santa had actually been at their house, eating their cookies, and feeding his reindeer. Puzzling out why the children do this is a frustrating fool's errand. Don't even try.
And One More Thing:
- It is only funny for The Elf to be sitting next to a bottle of Jameson's with a straw if the more responsible parent catches The Elf in time and reminds him to quit his joking around before the children get up in the morning.
This fun walk through my life provides a wonderful example of how wanting more can lead to more things to do, more responsibility, more things to worry about, more accountability. Before The Elf, we already had plenty of great Christmas traditions. It was already perfect. However, we bought into the More mentality just a wee bit, and look where it got us.
The concept of moderation is called Brahmacharya, and it brings us to the 4th week in our journey through all five of the Yamas. This is how today's blog post relates to yoga. (Don't lie. You've been wondering, haven't you?) I am writing this post on December 3rd, and Elfie has already forgotten to change places twice. He's batting 0.000 so far. I mean, he remembers at the last minute each morning to not sit in his same place, but it's gotten dicey.
The lesson here is to practice Brahmacharya in our lives, especially during this season where Excess is leering at us from around every corner. There are options for over commitment everywhere, more presents to buy and to want than necessary, overindulgences galore, etc. It's all there in front of us for the plucking.
And then, just as relevant is the strict "back to reality" dieting and working out to excess to "get back on track" come January 1 that might follow all of the over doing it during the holidays. The gym is packed every year in January, and by February it always empties back out to a more moderate level of activity. It never fails. Overcommitting on either end of this season of fun is NOT fun, whether it is in depriving ourselves or in the guilt that many of us impose upon ourselves in the wake of it. Brahmacharya encourages us to neither deprive needlessly nor indulge to excess. The balance comes in thoughtfully choosing what makes us feel satisfied.
I challenge you as I challenge myself: Let's avoid the trap of MORE and welcome the wonderful feeling of ENOUGH. I think we will all feel happier and more peaceful for it......until The Elf returns next December.
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