Here we are again at this unique time of year—the countdown to Christmas. For many, it seems, there are mixed feelings. There are delicious feelings of warmth and connectedness, and a longing to gather with family and friends and to share expressions of love and caring. Christmas cards and gift giving in some form are part of the tradition in many families.
On the other hand, there are feelings of mounting pressure to choose the right gift, to remember everyone on your list, to get it all done on time, and to accomplish this in the face of enormous crowds, limited parking, to say nothing of limited budgets. Added to this I am sensing a growing movement towards a simpler Christmas and a resistance to the consumer madness that seems to increase with each passing year.
Could there be a way to hold to the good feelings that were the humble beginnings of Christmas? Is it possible to recognize our own role as the creator of our experience and, in doing so, choose a calm resolve to take ourselves more lightly and to move gracefully through this season? When all of nature is “slowing down”, can we also slow down to a more soul-nourishing pace that allows us to smell the pine trees? Can we emerge from the festive season renewed rather than depleted?
Christmas stress is no different than any other stress. It’s a direct product of our state of mind. We create expectations about what we “think” Christmas should look like and we become gripped by our own creation. As we’re able to step back from our thinking and gain some perspective we’re able to slow down our busy mind and regain our calm.
We can then access the profound source of wisdom and creativity that lies within each of us. We need not be bound by traditions that no longer serve us or that seem inappropriate to the times. Nor do we need to reject traditions out of hand. Instead we can choose from an enormous palate of options, options that are only apparent to us when we’re calm.
We can then see that what is truly beautiful about Christmas is not the mounds of torn wrapping paper and discarded ribbon, nor is it the thoughtful gift that it contained (that you didn’t really need). Instead it’s the warm feelings shared with family, friends and neighbours. It can, in a way, be a metaphor for the rest of the year, lifting us to a new level of calm and compassion.
So whether it’s picking a name out of a hat, foregoing gifts altogether, or giving to your favourite charity, creating your own charity or even buying something for everyone on your list . . . whatever you choose this year remember to take it lightly, especially to take yourself lightly.
Wishing you all a lightly seasoned Christmas, wherever you find yourself.
“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” — Anon.