How do you respond when someone tells you what to do? Or at least what you should do?
Regardless of whether that delivered "should" is right or wrong (or even a good suggestion), I bristle at the idea that someone knows me and the state of the cosmos so well that I must act on said order/suggestion, especially if I did not ask for this particular speck of wisdom. A trusted source of wisdom is earned, not claimed by the deliverer.
I find some bliss this time of year. The Should Storm abates the last week of December and first week of January. What is a Should Storm? The jet stream of voices that declares what one should do. Autumn is engorged with these voices. Election season is one stream. You should vote this way! This is what an American should do!
The church and surrounding institutions are filled with other voices about how faith should be practiced. Advent! One must greet others in this way during the month of December, or else the Terrorists have won! Outrage! War On Christmas!
It doesn't help that I add to the Should Storm. I like certain things to happen in November and December. I like to see my family and friends. Making merry is pleasurable. But I often make myself sick in the Should Storm.
What do I love about this time of year? For an 8-9 day period (Dec 28-Jan 5), some people are back to work, some pastors are on vacation. Some of the decorations (I love the lights) are still up. People are either too tired or tuned out to dish out many shoulds. So I sit with my favorite Christmas carols, that with a "thankful heart and joyful mind (from The Wexford Carol)" that God with us will guide my actions with self, family, and neighbor rather than the ebb and flow of Should Storms. It reminds me of that sublime moment at 3am when I would hold one of my infant children, finally calming them and myself to rest and while we bask in the grace of God.