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Joy to the World: Why I'm Unplugging This Holiday Season

The holidays are my favorite time of year. Cliché, yeah I know, but it’s true! Ask anyone who has known me from childhood to date. For most, the holidays bring a parade of special memories, special traditions, and some of the tastiest treats where friends and family get together. As the Christmas playlists fill our office and our tree sits sparkling in the window, there seems to be a bit of magic in the air. Things slow down, and we have the space to think a little bit more about how we can spread kindness and peace on earth.

In contrast, though, I realize that the holidays in 2019 are far from the Hallmark-like scenes we see on our TVs. The last days of the year are a mad dash to finish every work goal and check every list (some even check it twice). These weeks are jammed packed with finals, papers, and the dreaded group projects. Every minute seems overloaded with to-dos and shopping and lists and family drama. There are few silent nights as we push and pull through everyday just to make it through the early days of December to our holiday break.

To make our lives easier, we turn to technology. We create reminders and use social media to capture those moments to which I alluded. We use the filters that are sprinkled with snowflakes. We send those text message questions about holiday logistics, mixed with not so subtle hints of what is on our wish list. In the midst of a busy season, we again, have allowed technology to clutter an already bustling time of the year.

As I recently sat in an airport, I spied a mom and her son who looked about eight. They sat beside each other. Silent. Headphones in. They had escaped the craziness that surrounded them in a daze, staring at the devices in their laps. As I walked by, I realized they were watching a classic Christmas movie. It was only then I realized they were watching the same movie but separately. Separate tablets. Separate headphones. Different parts of the plot. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared, not so subtly, at just how technology has allowed us to drift apart. In a season already bustling with too many to-dos, we’ve allowed our digital dependence to remove one more layer of the most magical time of the year. I have had enough.

What’s the solution, you ask? I want to give you a gift. No, you won’t find it under the tree, but instead in some words of advice: unplug.

After my trip through the airport, I came home to a dark house, only illuminated by the twinkle of our Christmas tree. I dropped by bags. Got a cup of tea, and I just sat in silence. This week, I stopped and listened to a group of carolers who were singing in the park. Walking home, I paused in the cold winter night to look up at the stars. I took a deep breath and let it out and watched as my exhale met the brisk wind and crystallized. Not one of these moments did I capture on insta. There was no mention of this on my story. I didn’t call or text someone to let them know what I was doing. I just took a moment to simply celebrate the season, free of distractions.

Our friends at TextLess Live More advocate for the 12 Days of TextLess this month. In 2019, each month brought a different strategy to build a healthy relationship with your device instead of a toxic one. Look back at these ideas and try a few as we gear up for 2020. Instead of texting your best friend, pick up the phone and call them. Put your phone on airplane mode for an hour while you eat dinner with yor family. Turn off some of those notifications that are pinging like jingle bells at all hours of the day. These tiny changes can help you disconnect from the digital world and feel more present in the real world as 2019 draws to a close.

Whether you’re stressed by the long list of tasks you need to complete or the paper you’ve put off till the last minute, I hope you’ll find a moment to celebrate the season, unplugged. Life is a precious thing that is only measured by the moments we find joy. I hope you’re able to find your joy and spread it to your world. May these holidays be a little brighter by enjoying the lights of the season and not the lights of your screen.

Wishing you a happy, unplugged, season of joy.

-Rick

Written By: RickBirt