What Christmas Means To Me
When I was young Christmas was bitter-sweet. The good side was that we sometimes saw my grandmother (Mumma) who I loved… the down side was I never felt close to the rest of my family. With Mumma everything was happy. I remember her ferns and the tree frogs and that she always went out of her way to make you feel happy. She was loving and caring for a young girl who was a stranger to affection and positive attention.
For the rest of my Christmas’s I struggled with feelings of abandonment and disappointment. Neither parent was capable of the love a child needed for reasons of their own so by the time I was an early adult I blankly boycotted Christmas and rejected anything that even looked like Christmas. In fact for over a decade I rebelled against a great deal of mainstream society, commercialism and family tradition.
It has only been through many painful life events that have brought me to my knees and helped me to realise slowly, the deep longing inside for family, human connection and the magic of Christmas. Bit by bit I return to the little girl inside me who loves the sparkling, shining anticipation that offers presents, yummy dinners and a few kind words from Mumma.
Over the last seven years I have been re-claiming Christmas with differing degrees of success, largely depending on the events of the year before. My girls gave me the special gift of a new family who loved me and wanted to share happiness and magic.
These days Christmas holds the promise of celebrating and embracing new concepts of family I largely did not have in my childhood. It offers opportunities to give to my girls and share with friends. It also opens the possibility of valuing myself and decorating my house in ways that temporarily make everything shine. Now I can appreciate Christmas in ways I have not before! Most of all, I have learnt to appreciate the people in my life who bring happiness and joy. So this is what Christmas means to me!!!
I would love to hear what Christmas Means to you?
Three Tips to Cope with Christmas
It’s silly season again and you may have begun to feel the overwhelm that builds up before Christmas. I see the trend every year as people become almost frantic as Christmas draws closer. What are those feelings really about? Why do we become so stressed before this celebration? And perhaps most importantly, what can I do to remain stressed and at peace through this time?
There are multiple reasons why Christmas can be stressful. Some of these include financial pressure, stressful family dynamics, socially imposed expectations and even loneliness. Christmas is a time when everyone seems to go back to their families and celebrate. But for anyone who does not have a family or has lost a loved one over the last few years, Christmas can be a time of grief and sorrow. It can highlight what and who we don’t have around us.
Christmas can also be a time of high family stress, especially as social consumer expectations are high and so many people are struggling. Again, Christmas can highlight what we don’t have and leave us feeling inadequate.
It can be great seeing the extended family again, and it can be stressful. Al those feelings like you are five years old again come rushing to the surface. Family patterns are powerful and they can bring up unresolved issues. Even the most aware can fall prey to good old family patterns!
So what is the answer?
Here are some tips that can help you over the Christmas period. First, keep in mind a value or goal… is Christmas about celebration or connection or gratitude? When consumer expectations and family get togethers get overwhelming, remind yourself of your goal and ask, “Is this in alignment with what Christmas really means to me?” This value is like your barometer. It can help you on stay on track rather than lead astray. Secondly, practice boundaries. Sometimes these boundaries are with ourselves and our wallets and sometimes these boundaries are with other people and relatives. But boundaries do help maintain healthy relationships. If for whatever reason, you feel stressed about spending time with others then set clear boundaries with yourself and them and stick to it. For example, “I’ll see Uncle Bob and family for two hours rather than the whole day!” Remember, we can set boundaries in ways that sound kind, with compassion, and yet have a strong core that does not waver! Finally, practicing self-awareness and mindfulness never goes astray around Christmas. Mindfulness is the art of self-awareness, which can set in good stead for not getting drawn into self-defeating arguments or empty wallets.
Here are the Three Tips Again…
Know your values behind Christmas
Set healthy boundaries
With these tips in mind, I wish you a fantastic Christmas!!!
Tell me your Christmas worries and I will respond to them in furfure blogs over the December period. I would also love to hear about how you cope with difficult times at Christmas, as your ideas could help others!