BOBBY HARRISON: Holidays should teach us to enjoy life in the moment



The holiday season is coming to an end, though many people will continue a religious celebration for a few more days.

But the decorations are quickly coming down, including at the state Capitol, where work already has started to get ready for the Tuesday start of the circus – better known as the 2014 legislative session.

It seems only like yesterday that I could barely contain my anticipation as I awaited Santa’s stop at my home. Sometimes, he would come on Christmas Eve while we were at my grandparents’ or aunt’s home for a Christmas get-together.

Then, I remember the time he always came on Christmas Eve for my children while we were at a church service. The next morning we would pack up and travel to Helena, Ark., for the continuation of Christmas.

The years are flying by so fast. I wish I had a clicker to slow events down.

This year marked the first time since 1994 that we did not attend Christmas Eve communion service at Madison United Methodist Church. It worked out that it made more sense for us to travel to Arkansas on Christmas Eve where we arrived literally just in time to attend the communion service at my wife’s childhood church, Helena First United Methodist.

The Christmas Eve communion services have long been the most special respite from the hustle and bustle of what the modern holiday has come to mean so often. In the midst of planning to travel, getting ready to travel and traveling and trying to accommodate everyone, the season can become more of a series of checklists of tasks that must be completed to make the holiday complete. What it should be is a time to contemplate on our many blessings and on our beliefs and to remember those suffering from tragedy, loneliness and other afflictions that can be magnified this time of year.

The Christmas Eve service can put those things in perspective, and, though we were hustling to get there, communion at the old, stately Helena United Methodist Church with special music provided by some cousins, did just that.

This year, as has been the case in recent years, most of our Christmas has revolved around trying to accommodate different work schedules. All of our children could not make the trip to Helena this year. As it turned out, we realized the only time everyone could be together was Sunday afternoon, so Jill quickly prepared a delicious meal, spinach lasagna, and our family, my wife and four children, were able to celebrate an early Christmas. We have traditionally reserved Christmas Eve for our gathering.

The early celebration meant a tradition was broken, but circumstances and maturity force changes to even the best traditions.

Nothing in the world lasts forever. Sometimes we want it to, but it just doesn’t happen.

It is often hard for us to accept that. We often try so hard to make things perfect – the way they have been for years – that we miss opportunities for new traditions and new experiences.

Tragic events this Christmas that were in the news – that dominated the lives of many – should clarify in all our lives that we should cherish every moment and spend less time worrying that things are not the way we think they should be.

We should appreciate the good in the present and stop trying to make the future the best ever.

Because if we stop and think about it for just a second, the present – just as it is – can be pretty darn good. And if it is good, do not spend too much time thinking about it because it can be gone in the blink of an eye. Instead, live it.

And unfortunately, in this world, the next blink might not be too good – and God bless those who suffer from those bad blinks – especially at Christmas.

But the humbling lesson I learned at Christmas, through introspection and through observing loved ones, is, if the present is pretty good, enjoy it instead of worrying that it is not better. Because right now, in hindsight, might be the best it can ever be.

Bobby Harrison is Capitol Bureau chief in Jackson for the Daily Journal. Contact him at or(601) 353-3119.

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