Focus — on Christmas


Focus — on Christmas

Focus – That’s my issue – I’m having a difficult time focusing on work. This time of year is a time of change with distractions everywhere. First of all, Its cold. Cold for Los Angeles, not cold for Minneapolis. Its 47 degrees today. Two weeks ago it was 75.  The change is physical. You wear different clothes. You hurry from house to car. Dog walks become shorter.

Second, and perhaps most important, the holidays are here. Talk about a distraction. There are cookies and candy everywhere and its almost sacrilegious not to eat it. That also means you feel a bit bloated all the time. So when its time to work, you just don’t feel like it.

Plus, you are doing things that you don’t normally do. You are going shopping. Sure you can waltz through Amazon, but that doesn’t really work for me. To get gift ideas I need to see things, touch things, and think “that’s perfect for Heather, or Andy, or Xin, or Ashley, or Robyn.”: You just can’t get that feeling from a picture on a display. This means your schedule changes and you sneak out early or spend time in the evenings or on weekends assaulting the mall. Your normal schedule just isn’t the same.

Astrid asked me to write this piece and I’m struggling. Its Thursday and I’m at home. People at work have taken vacation days (PTO) to have more time with their families. No need to go in and sit in an empty office. I can do that here.

So there is the weather, the food, shopping, changes in schedules. Its hard to get ‘going’. But is that the only reason.

As kids we looked forward to Christmas because it meant fun. We went shopping and found treasures for our families and friends. We wrote letters to Santa and sat on his lap. We set up a creche and put in animals, Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, shepherds, angels and of course the baby Jesus who arrived on Christmas eve.

So much has changed. Or has it?

As I go to the mall I see the little kids lined up to see Santa. There is joy on their faces and expectation in their eyes. The churches still have nativity scenes. All you have to do is look for them. Houses are still decorated with lights though some may be laser driven and you can actually see reindeer and snowmen move.  Music is still there, but then I guess you have to listen.

As one gets older, you can say “Bah Humbug” and get depressed with commercialism and the lack of religion in the season. You can, if you like, sit in a corner and think about how things used to be and how you can’t even say “Merry Christmas” any more.


Has it really changed so much? Or is it you that have changed. Is it possible that the grumpiness comes from your inner spirit and not the weather, food, shopping, schedule changes? Is it possible that Christmas isn’t so much fun because you aren’t so much fun?

I’m going to fix Christmas. I’m putting on a warm coat, taking only one cookie rather than two, heading out to the mall and take a moment to watch the young parents and their children as they line up to see Santa. Who knows, maybe I’ll find that magic and wonder is still there on their faces. Maybe I’ll watch It’s a Wonderful Life and Love Actually, maybe I’ll drop in at the local church and spend a bit of time with the shepherds and those wise men. Maybe I’ll let Alexia play Christmas Carols softly in the background.

Then maybe, just maybe, I’ll loosen up just enough to see that star in the East and celebrate the season the way I did so many winters ago.

Merry Christmas.





Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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