As we approach the ‘Season of Good Will’, I’m struck by the question as to why so many of us perpetuate the ritual of Christmas when Christianity is not a part of our lives. So many around the world, Christian and not, come together to celebrate at this time of year. There is no judgement in this questioning, just curiosity.
Is it the annual ‘excuse’ for family and friends to gather, that normal life just does not make time for? Is it a time when all are allowed to let out their inner-child, gaze at the tree in delight, eat too much, play games and watch TV? Is it purely for the children in our midst – the sparkle, the excitement and Father Christmas? After all, what is Christmas without some sooty fingerprints, half chewed carrots, a glass of sherry, a mince pie and laden stockings in the morning?! Or does witnessing this awe remind us of our own childish wonder at the world?
Christmas seems to be a Marmite affair with those who can’t wait for it putting up their tree at the earliest opportunity, and others almost dreading the pressure of ‘the day’.
It is a special occasion, yet for many, the pressure of ‘disappointment avoidance’ causes significant stress, not to mention financial difficulties. Meeting expectations with decorations, food, drink, presents, crackers… these ingredients – are they really necessary? Do they facilitate an argument-free environment, or in many cases cause the tension underpinning them?
When we think of Christmas as a time of good cheer and good will to all men, it is ultimately a massive Birthday party, given in honour of Christ, a man who taught lessons in humility, peace, healing and loving one’s neighbour. How far is this truly represented in most households world-wide today?
Perhaps the alternative to the pressure (for those who feel it), could be to invite everyone to ‘bring a dish’ or ‘Christmas extra’; have a regular meal and just enjoy the company. Maybe then the additional money could be donated to a charity, family experience, or next month’s bills? Could this precipitate a shift in focus from the ‘need’ for everything to be perfect, to everyone being able to enjoy the day (not spending it slaving over a hot stove, with the three days preceding chopping up sprouts)? Maybe the dinner itself is a part of the fun of it? Again, there is no judgement, merely curiosity.
But just maybe, instead of having one day of Christmas spirit, festivities, community and sparkle, some of the magic can be taken and sprinkled through 2019?
If Christmas makes you happy, what is it that brings you alive? What elements can you pick out and enjoy more of throughout the year? If Christmas is a stress, how can you communicate this and find a plan to share the load? If it is about the wonder and excitement of the children, how can this joy be found in other, random days of the year? If it about faith, how can this be lived a little more every day?
Brené Brown, an inspirational author, researcher and speaker (if you don’t know her, check her out!) talks about the feeling of ‘foreboding joy’, something we all experience. When everything is going well, or feels too good to be true, we are often gripped by a sense of impending doom, or a ‘what if’ of something awful happening.
Throughout 2019, could we bring daily awareness to the moments of peace, excitement, joy, contentment, compassion for all, and love? Is it possible to mindfully nourish these feelings, and allow ourselves the vulnerability to accept them openly into our lives? If we can do this every day, maybe, just maybe, the Christmas magic that unites so many in a collective consciousness around the world, can become a natural part of our every day.
With gratitude and love,
“Wherever you are, be there totally.” Eckhart Tolle