Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 30 seconds
I have found as Christmases come and go, I’ve had time to give attention to my intentions and evaluate the things that I’m less driven by and what tugs at my heart strings. The wonderment of what I want to buy into versus what I walk away from to find peace and a sense of where I belong - as opposed to an obligation to conform.
With Christmas approaching, shopping, planning and end of year functions are in full swing. Have you had the feeling that you have had enough and it’s time for a little change in your usual traditions?
Do you do the norm to conform?
The joy of Christmas should be about what you and the family value and where your heart centre lies. If you do the norm to conform - to social pressure, or spend up and pay off Christmas debt until well into the New Year for the sake of appearance, it may be time to stop, take stock and plan something new.
I was a big follower and lover of Christmas before I lived a more organised life. I bought into the whole tradition big time, decorating the house to the nth degree, all the trimmings, family during the day and then friends for Christmas in the evening.
As my life changed, I found myself sharing a Christmas with a difference every second year. My family became adopted friends in Christchurch who opened their home and hearts to include my son and I.
This was the beginning of how I refined my views, providing clarity to discover what was truly important. Over time the pressure and expectations I enforced on myself vanished, replaced with giving myself permission to do the things I really found a sense of purpose, peace or enjoyment from.
Is it the gift of presence or presents?
This year as Christmas nears two people dear to me have suffered a blow to their health, and once again I find myself assessing my Christmas plans and how I will now spend it. I reflect upon knowing the biggest gift that one can have is life, making the second gift, to be in the company of the ones that we love or having the ability to connect with those loved ones if the opportunity is not available to be near them.
Which began the discovery of intentional presence of self, family and others at Christmas.
Gift of time
I believe we all want less stress, debt and pressure. Start a conversation with the wider family about what you value. By offering time to re-evaluate Christmas Day you may find other family members are feeling the same. Before long you can share a Christmas that feels tailored especially for your family.
In my birth family we buy gifts only for the children, nephews or nieces. We make sure we celebrate the gift of time that we are with each other. We live in different parts of Australasia, making being present with each other as adults a true gift.
With my adopted family, we agreed to do a celebration of connection, and go to an event, eat a meal or enjoy a movie together. It has removed the expense of individual presents, the pressure of making the time to go to the stores and instead replaced it with being present and building memories together.
I would say to all no matter what you decide to do make a pact to disconnect - put the phone to one side, and truely engage with the ones around you.
Time is a gift, step away from technology, cleaning up straight away or busying yourself and offer the gift of yourself to others by being present to chat and listen.
Putting a phone on a table, shows the ones around you that they are not your first priority, even if the phone is upside down.
Plan a different get together
Talk with family and find out what is important to each member about the get together and what works within a budget and geography. Plan your day around all of those points.
- Consider a Christmas brunch instead of a gut-bulging lunch.
- Plan a picnic or BBQ and pack some treats that are seasonal to help keep the cost down.
- Work out a couple of the family’s fav dishes and put your time into those instead of many dishes, spreading your time and budget to the limit.
- Roll out a dish that each person brings and set a limit of the cost.
- If you like to give the gift of cooking, sit down with family and plan out the budget of the meal and spilt per head, getting family members to chip in.
There was no all morning cooking, stress and over the top cost. To this day I still recall how much we all enjoyed a simple but fun way to enjoy Christmas lunch, the excitement and anticipation of getting to the destination. The way we all set up and sat down together and there was nothing for anyone to be distracted by.
I recall once as a child travelling to Christchurch, we packed a picnic lunch of special food that we didn’t eat every day. We pulled over outside Dunedin by the seaside, set a table with a cloth and ate sandwiches.
How delicious it was.
Expand on the gift of giving
Set a different intention for Christmas - a new tradition - start your festive season by giving to someone outside your family or give as a family.
- The City Mission - citymission.org.nz - looks for volunteers in the build up and on Christmas Day for their volunteer lunch.
- Support your local community and donate to a food bank, most supermarkets have a bin for this.
- The SPCA, requires foster families to bottle-feed kittens over Christmas in Canterbury.
- Age Concern needs volunteers throughout the year to make a difference to the elderly who may be isolated.
- Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal - give a gift online or in-store.
Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.” ~ Oren Arnold
No one person’s view or opinion is more right or nor is another one’s wrong. Simply put, it comes down to what is important to me may not be as important to you and your family.
N.B More Of You is in no way affiliated to any of the above mentioned charities or organisations.
Please share any Christmas traditions or charities you support in the comments below.