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The holiday joy of play

Officially, I refuse to discuss much about Christmas or the "holidays" until Thanksgiving. Call me a traditionalist but the season begins when Santa Claus makes his annual appearance at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. That's when my holiday spirit begins. I'm not much of a decorator (It took the help of a friend to hang my wreath on the front of my house yesterday, but we were successful) nor am I big on the holiday attire. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy holiday cheer or get into the spirit of giving, receiving with graciousness and, most importantly, rekindling that childlike spirit.

For me, the little kid comes out most holiday time in music.

Which of course means the ditty from The Chipmunks. It also includes, in heavy rotation, The Partridge Family Christmas Album, which I believe has the best arrangement ever of "Jingle Bells."

My own personal holiday mix (which includes seasonal tunes by Britney and Mariah) was installed on my iPod the other day and I decided it was the perfect mix for my 30 minute run, which was relegated to the treadmill in light of icy and slushy road conditions. I do have a tendency to lip sync when I run with my iPod and generally do it a tad more when I'm using it on the treadmill. But with my Christmas tunes, I couldn't help myself. Heck, I may have even been singing out loud at one point. (Which would explain why several people in my vicinity quickly ended their workouts when I was nearby).

Normally, I'd be a bit self conscious about it.

This day, I wasn't. Didn't care. Oh, does it look like I'm talking to myself? You mean you can seriously listen to David Cassidy rock out to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and not move your lips?

I'm just having fun.

I had a smile on my face the entire run ... and a smile on my face the rest of the day, wreath hanging difficulties and all.

Recently, I picked up the book "Journey to the Heart" by Melody Beattie which contains daily meditations. The readings are short and simple and basically just a good reminder of things I already know, but sometimes need refreshers on, especially at the start of my day.

Today's entry was about making time to play:

"Play as much as you can. Find time -- take time -- to play. It may give you the energy you need."

I thought of this when I was swimming at 5:45 this morning. Is practice work? Sure. Do I need to focus? Yes.

But play takes focus, too. Remember when you were a kid and you were playing and so engrossed in what you were doing that you completely lost track of time? That's some focus, isn't it? Forgetting about everything else and just being absorbed in the moment? Isn't that pure joy? Isn't that also the space where really cool things happen -- like learning and improvement? When we're in the moment and joyful?

There's no better time of the year to connect with that little kid you once were, the one who still lives inside you who wants to go play. Maybe your tastes in the kind of play has changed, but the need to abandon all else and enjoy the moment and play, well, that's what gives you the energy for all the hard, grown-up stuff.

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