It is hard to believe that another Christmas holiday season is upon us. A time of joy, a time of togetherness. A time of love, a time of sharing. A time of good will toward people and peace on earth. I’m old enough to remember a time like that, way back in the recesses of my childhood, a time when people would get together and laugh and share and smile and it felt like they meant it, but somewhere along my journey in life something shifted and the flavor of Christmas changed. Maybe its because I’ve become an adult. Maybe it’s because I’ve become an adult with children. Maybe it’s because as adults we have shifted our focus, our priorities.
Recently the Christmas holiday season feels more like a time of buying, a time of stress. A time of spending, a time of obligation. A time of putting up with people and hell on earth. The first time this change became apparent to me occurred a couple of years ago when a woman in the toy aisle said, “It is so nice that people are good to each other at this time of year.” And I thought to myself, “Yes, but they should be good at all times of the year, not just save their goodness up for the holiday season.”
This year I decided to do some observing and listening in on my fellow humans to hear some of their feelings about Christmas and although the peace on earth and goodwill toward people is still present, it does not feel as prevalent as I remembered in my childhood. When I walk through malls, the energy feels heavy and busy and grumpy. People look stressed and vacant. The odd time that I listened in I heard complaining about having to go to so and so’s house for dinner, or having to put up with in-laws or family and wishing the holiday season to be over. I heard tales of woe and concern that it will take 6 months to pay off the debt incurred buying Christmas presents they can’t afford and worry that it won’t be enough.
The challenge of Christmas has become about survival – surviving financially and surviving the family. And we know it. That’s the funny part. We know it. We know we are buying things we cannot afford. We know we are buying things we don’t need. We know we are contributing to major packaging waste. We know the person is not going to appreciate it to the degree that we want given how hard we worked and sacrificed to buy it. We know we are spoiling our children and not in a beneficial way, in an entitled way, and that is dangerous. And stressful because we want our family happy and we feel guilty if we cannot provide for their happiness.
So I’m suggesting a Christmas challenge for all of us, well all of us over 18 years of age. We’re adults. Consider what you want Christmas to feel like, truly. How do you want to feel over the Christmas holidays? What would have to happen for you to feel the way you want? How would you have to change your behaviour for you to feel what you want? Do you need to stop doing so much for others or do you need to be nicer and do more for others?
If surviving the consumerism aspect of Christmas is the hard part, maybe it is time to give ourselves permission to provide a beautiful Christmas dinner as the gift to the family and what better gift than to bring everyone together so they can share a meal and reconnect. Maybe it is time to give ourselves permission to give second hand gifts to reduce on packaging and cost and set an example of reusing items. Maybe it is time to focus on gifts that bring us together, where we can share experiences and create memories. Maybe to each gift we can add something meaningful. A hand written letter. A love letter. About why you chose the gift or why the person is a gift to you.
If surviving family gatherings is the difficult part, maybe it is time to give ourselves permission to have a quiet celebration or to create new family traditions. Perhaps it is time to approach the celebrations reflecting on all that you are grateful for, including the difficult people in your life. Maybe we need to write him or her a loving letter or do something extra special for that difficult person because maybe he or she needs extra care and someone to show him or her how to be kind.
One thing we can all do is one extra special thing for someone every day. Something that does not cost money. Something that makes a person’s day easier or makes the person smile in joy and wonder. The person can know you are doing something for them or not. Regardless, imagine how good you will feel. Imagine how good the world will feel when everyone does one special thing every day for someone. Merry Christmas and Inner Peace to all on Earth.
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