Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr – Side Tracked Over the Holidays? – December 13, 2012

Spirit matters logoCFN – Recently I got sidetracked by wanting to make more money so that I could pay for some extras. I decided to take overtime at work and after doing five extra two-hour shifts, my brain turned into what felt like a brick: it literally could not process any more information. My right eye developed a tick, something like Inspector Clouseau’s boss had – remember that from the Pink Panther movies? Having become aware of how my body was reacting, I decided to respect my limits and do right by my clients too, as they would not be well served if I could not think properly.


I had to admit to myself that overwork was taking its toll on my health and it would be better to scale down this “want” to have more things. The point of this is that if we take the time to listen, we actually do know when we are over the limit stress-wise. If we take the time to reconsider, we could have a really wonderful time without going into the stress zone and overdoing it. Having said that, it’s up to each individual to learn how their system works and what overload feels and looks like. As I continue on the path to break up with codependent behavior, I see many opportunities for improvement and learning. This brings me to the subject on the minds of many this month: Christmas and the holidays.

The Christmas season is upon us and so are all the pressures to make it the best time ever. To me, the holiday season is a fabricated event. How many people actually connect Christmas to a significant event like the birth of Christ? Not many, it seems. As someone who does not participate anymore in the usual traditions and festivities, and hasn’t for the last thirty years, I often encourage people to tone down the stress. What is all this pressure about after all? To what ideal are we trying to conform? Who are we trying to impress? And does this all lead to happiness? Do you really want to have a whole pile of debt to deal with once the season is over?

I think the greatest gift we can offer to people is the gift of our time and attention. A good conversation, a chance to relax together over something warm and delicious, a time to kick back and just be ourselves – that’s what makes life worth living and makes us feel connected and alive, vitally aware of our humanity, of our shared relationship and the importance of being present to each other. I think that there is a certain “cost” associated with giving of ourselves. We have to become deprived of selfishness – we have to let go of unrealistic expectations – we have confront our fears of appearing less in the sight of others. It’s a big shift in thinking. It’s breaking up with tradition, but it can lead to unexpected learning and greater rewards.

This holiday season I wish you lots of time to relax, to laugh and to have a good time. I hope you all share in the work of making the meal and cleaning up. I hope you stay safe and please don’t drink and drive!

Shirley Barr lives and works in Cornwall ON and is a member of the Baha’i International Community. She can be reached at spiritmatters9@gmail.com




  1. Good Sunday morning and “Merry Christmas” to you and yours!!

    Interesting article!! What good is money if one doesn’t have good health? On the other hand one can say, how can one have a good life if they don’t have money.

    The answer is simple……it’s “The Little Things” that we can do for one another that can bring greater joy. When one can buy whatever they want whenever they want, the novelty soon wears off, especially when spending is done to fill a void. Having more money does not lessen co-dependency, it creates a type of stress if you will, by the need to always surpass others and always wanting the most and best of everything which in the final analysis does not bring greater joy.

    If one has $10.00 in their pocket and gives $5.00 to someone in
    need, to me that is more fulfilling then spending the money on

    Like you Shirley, I liked the Chritmases of days gone by, when it
    wasn’t so commercialized…where one could feel the warmth, love,
    and the true spirit of giving without running themselves ragged.

  2. I’ve often thought about this sharing idea…doesn’t really make sense for each home to own a car, snowblower, high pressure washer, etc. Let the transformation begin.

  3. Jaqueline…I agree!!!

    For sure Christmas is a time for giving and thinking of the less fortunate, however, Christmas has become too commercialized. Gifts become the main focus where many times it is taken for granted. When a child asks for an i-pad to the tune of almost $400.00….makes one think. LOL

    Yes let’s get back to the old days when people were more important then gifts. Where people said “Merry Christmas” and meant it. Where little things made us happy, where the love for one another and the euphoric feeling of giving was felt year round.

  4. Re-gifting becomes even more important for seniors or otherwise those of limited funds/fixed incomes.

    Another factor in gifting is the perceived value of each gift by its receiver, relative to what you worked hard to pay for.

    Dysfunctional environments of mixed integrated family relationships are very common today so bias of the giver to one side of a family sibling over another may also be common. Hurt feelings are easier to fly up, harming what could otherwise be a good family Christmas.

    Whose house to go to, what roadblocks are there from individual attitudes to outright shunning get in the way of an unencumbered flow of events. Special CONSIDERATIONS can make for an impossible get together or all concerned.

    Through all the tug of wars that evolve in todays socio-economic climate, WWJD?

    Good luck on that score but I think he would see quickly the values prayer for direction, prayer for family peace and acceptances and prayer for overall peace and harmony.

    Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season. Keep in touch with HIM through out and don’t forget to go to church.

  5. WWJD: What would Jesus Do

  6. Thanks Shirley…I’m going to go to bed a little more enlightened this evening.

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