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  • Writer's pictureElisa Juarez

Cup of Joy

December 1, 2021

As much as I love holiday festivities, gatherings, and traditions, I had a sense of relief last year when the pandemic brought it all to a halt. My December calendar was unusually empty as we continued to hunker down at home. I've never had such a holiday in my lifetime. No parties? No church services, cantatas, and dinners? Whaaaat? I can’t honestly say I felt bad about that. It was the opposite of what we are used to – the world pulling us in all directions and keeping us running. Instead, we were urged to stay home. Put on slippers and holiday movies. Bake cookies and make puzzles. Slow down. Drink tea and cocoa. Rest. Merry Christmas. Here we are one year later, and life has resumed much of its normalcy, but not without the virus. Just this week, I know of friends' family members who are hospitalized with COVID. A new variant has hit the U.S. and booster shots are being recommended for everyone. Life goes on and the holidays have returned. I am especially thankful for health, home, family, and friends. I am glad we can gather safely in my circle, but I choose to keep things simple and sane. It benefits all of us to reinvent our holidays so that comfort and joy abound. Perhaps the pandemic helped us to figure out what that looks like. It certainly turned our world upside-down and brought us home like never before. I listen to the Glennon Doyle podcast “We Can Do Hard Things,” where the expression “held and free” is often used and examined. How wonderful it is to realize that we are both held and free, and that we can release anything that interferes with that. The holidays come with a heap of expectations from family and society which can make it hard to feel this. What does it mean to be held as the precious beings we are, and free to be our truest selves? It starts with looking at what we hold to be true and deciding whether those beliefs keep us caged or set us free. Maybe we have outgrown some of them. For me, “held and free” equals “comfort and joy.” It takes reflection and awareness to discover it. I remember the “coffee hour” my home church held every Sunday morning when I was growing up. My mother wasn’t much of a coffee drinker, but since her hands were often cold, she held a cup of coffee to keep them warm. As the minister’s wife, she knew she was expected to be there, so she made sure she was comfortable. Her cup was full and her hands were warm. I don’t know if she felt “held and free,” but she ensured that I did. I knew I was loved just as I was and free to be fully me. Even so, I continue to learn what it means to live and love from a cup that is full and warm. I’m quite familiar with the empty cup - drained, weary, and discouraged. I know how hard it is to live and give from that place. In this “season of giving,” let’s start with what we can give ourselves to keep our cup full and warm. You get to decide. Put aside expectations and obligations. This is your life, your holiday, your cup. Why not fill it with comfort and joy that will spill over into your world? What if you could step into the new year energized and inspired instead of empty and exhausted? You are loved, whole, held, and free. You are enough. Embrace that truth and the freedom it brings. As Glennon says, do not ask anything of the holidays. Go into them with your inherent worthiness and wholeness. No one can bestow that or take it from you. This is the gift of Divine Love. Receive it, know it, give it, be it. Cheers, ej Elisa J. Juarez

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