Holidays and Traffic Signs
Several people have shared with me in the last twenty-four hours that they are already stressing about the holidays. One person said they wished they could wake up tomorrow and it would be January 1st and the holidays would be behind them. The holidays can indeed be a stressful time, and so a little psychological and spiritual preparation can go a long way to making them a more pleasant experience.
I have made several roads trips recently for work, and I have found some wisdom that might help with holiday stress in a rather unlikely source—road construction signs. My favorite one so far is, “Stay alert! Traffic pattern changed ahead.” True to the sign, the lanes on the interstate had shifted due to construction, and because it was a road I drive frequently, the sign was helpful in alerting me to the changed conditions.
This sign is excellent advice for the holidays, a time when we are faced with the reality that the patterns in our families may have naturally and predictably shifted over time. Grief and loss are not uncommon during the holidays as we can’t help but realize that things are different than they used to be. Previous patterns around the holidays have changed, and the old familiar roads look different now.
Another sign I saw was, “Major delays ahead—Alternate Routes Suggested.” Sometimes we just need to be flexible and be open to taking a different route. If we have young children, or even a teenager, in the family we will have to do things differently than we did a few years ago. We will have to adjust accordingly, taking “a new route” to help everyone have fun and enjoy being together.
“Construction traffic may be entering ahead, be ready to yield,” is another sign I saw that can be helpful wisdom for the holidays. The ability to be flexible and to be able to yield will always serve us well, but especially so this time of year. And something that will help us to be able to yield is the advice seen when approaching any road construction area—“Slow down.” I am convinced that one of the reasons we speed our lives up this time of year, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, is because we are doing so to speed through or around whatever grief, sadness, or uncomfortable feelings we might be experiencing.
A road sign that is always a welcome sight for our tired eyes is the one that tells us there is a rest area or oasis a few miles ahead. We are wise to not only slow down during the holidays, but actually create time and space to stop, breathe, pray, meditate, and recharge on a regular basis.
A little preparation will always make a road trip more enjoyable, and the same is true for the holiday season. Doing so means we will have a much better chance of adjusting to any changes we may encounter so that we are more able to enjoy this most special time of year.
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