It's Beginning to feel a lot like christmas
The festive season, particularly Christmas, is riddled with expectations. In the movie and the magazines, it looks like one massive extended family, in one house for a long period of time, eating a lot of amazing food and drinking great wine, being really happy, really energetic and really in love with everyone who's there. And loving all their presents...
ALL THE TIME.
This doesn't make a lot of sense to most people. It makes Christmas seem like it's only a celebration if you have multiple someones to celebrate it with, someones to be performing this display of love and joy to. But is that what it's really about? Or is it maybe just about the gifts, the one-up-man-ship, the partying... Or perhaps, is it spiritual - about the giving and the sharing? I've been asking myself these questions for a long time now.
Historically, celebrations have occurred for many centuries around the middle of winter, as a kind of winter solstice that heralds the end of the cold season towards more bountiful times - these celebrations, generally hedonistic in nature and involving the consumption of lots of food and wine, were sometimes religious and sometimes secular.
In fact, Christmas originally wasn’t celebrated by the Christian church, as the birth of Christ wasn’t considered a concrete date and thus a formal holiday.
Today, of course, it looks quite different- did you know that modern day Jolly Santa is actually a Coke creation? Now a blend of secular and spiritual, Christmas seems first and foremost to be an enabling of family time. In this way, as you age and the dynamics inside your family shift, Christmas can develop into something entirely different, a number of times. For younger children, it's probably about receiving gifts, trying to measure in some way your worth by extension. As you get older, perhaps it's about what you consume, about satisfying and altering your body for some brief hours to grasp at some kind of joy and escape. Perhaps, if you have your own family, it is now your turn to create tradition yourself. It shifts, perhaps, into a way to measure your own capacity to feel joy and to give it to others.
If it's something that is supposed to be about connection, yet you find yourself alone... What do you do? Is a Christmas spent alone a Christmas spent in sadness?
There are a lot of places you can go, for people who don’t have someone else at Christmas. It’s important to find them before Christmas, too- even if you want to be alone, on the day you might find you feel differently… And if you are alone on the day, know that Christmas isn't a reflection on how loved you are. It’s a day when people reflect on the love in their lives. So, you can use the time to reflect on your life, and think about the things you’re happy with, and the things you might change.
When it works best, it's because people make caring the centre of the experience. It's about giving, without needing to receive. It challenges us to focus more on the people who are around us, rather than the people who should be but aren't. It gives us the gift of genuine time-out, for some, a time to be seen and held. It's a chance to rejuvenate and restore, not a time to test our endurance.
This Christmas, here are ten random tips:
Save your money and buy some of your presents on Boxing Day at the sales - you will need to "not get to see them before Christmas"
Tell your friends to save their money and buy your presents on Boxing Day- or buy you a bigger present!
Find one thing to be actually thankful for and remind yourself, constantly
Eat the food you like, not the food you should for a day
Keep hydrated… with water.
Save the used wrapping paper, if only to offset the waste guilt.
Buy yourself something, and actually go to the effort of giving it to yourself
For the person that matters most, write a card that tells them why you love them
Give something to someone else, that you don’t expect back
Don’t be charitable… be caring.
And if all else fails, you can come hang out here.
Oh... and what the hell is Boxing Day anyway? A chance to put your gifts into boxes and return them? Who invents that... actually, that's a story for another day.