I am writing this article with a note to myself to read it next November. Have you noticed how preparing for Christmas can drive you away from what it’s all suppose to be about? It takes gargantuan effort to resist being pulled towards the myth of a perfect Christmas and all the work that involves. On a rational level I understand that it’s just a marketing ploy to get us to buy one more thing to plug the gap between reality and fantasy, but emotionally you feel like the Grinch if you opt out of any element. It’s not just that striving to deliver gastronomic delights, carefully curated gifts and outstanding entertainment in a showhouse standard setting leads to horrendous waste – just look in your bin before and after – it’s that all of this extra work often makes us more tired, less patient and too frequently less kind.
This week my family had the misfortune to experience unkindness from two separate individuals. Nothing life threatening, nothing illegal – just thoughtlessness and selfishness that will have a lasting impact on us . Of course we’ve had many lovely interacted with fabulous people this week too, which highlighted to me how, in a split second, we have the ability to affect a person’s day, week or life. Regardless of our resources or position, kindness to others is always within our gift to give.
This gift is fragile and it existence and potential can easily be crushed if we’re denied space to breath and time to reflect on the needs of those around us. In the rush to finish the DIY, clean the house, buy and trim the tree, write and post the cards, buy the gifts and groceries and tree and alcohol and turkey and ‘Christmas outfit’ and and …… it’s completely understandable how thoughtfulness slips down the list of priorities. Ironic giving that Christmas is meant to be a time for us to think of others.
But modern life eats up space and time and we have to reclaim it deliberately and purposely. The best advice i received on this score was to say ‘No’ more often. Now given my ‘cram as much in a possible’ disposition i find this mantra hard so I’ve tweak it and created an ‘either or’ strategy. It’s simple but very effective. I can either host dinner or i can buy very well-considered gifts, I can either look a million dollars on Christmas day or i can invest the time in creating a dinner to die for, I can either socialise at every opportunity or opt for a quiet restorative holiday, i can either clear my to-do list or I can make Christmas crafts, I can either relax and watch Christmas TV or finish my article on time!
I lost the plot on Tuesday of this week and decided to tidy the garden for Christmas. My resulting tiredness had me grumping at anyone that would listen and I still ache. But I’ve copped myself on and my ‘either ors’ including hosting over gifts, dinner over dress, a quite holiday with a smattering of select events with people I really value, and the tardiness of this article will give you an inkling as to whether I picked the TV or my website last night.
So if it’s not too late, give yourself some breathing space. Strike a few to-do’s off the list. Give way to learner drivers and those that are driving for a living, check that friends and family aren’t alone this Christmas, take time out to say hello to neighbours and give yourself the breathing space to spread kindness this holiday season.
Wishing you and yours the chance to have an imperfect but fulfilling Christmas this year.