Friday, 21 December 2012

The gift of Christmas


It's such an evocative word.......Christmas. It conjours up images of perfect families; of laughter and joy; of warmth and brightness and mountains of presents and food.  For me it also digs out memories of childhood excitement mixed with a mum who I don't think enjoyed Christmas particularly.  It brings up emotions from many years of very grown up, childless, Christmases filled with longing for a family and surrounded by miscarriages. This has now moved aside to make room for the giddy excitement of my little lady but the impact of those years has left its legacy.

I was planning to write a post about how I feel over Christmas but my reflections have changed shape over the past few days to see a slightly different picture. About the real gifts of Christmas.

I met an old work friend the other day who probably sparked this chain of thoughts.  Times are really tough for her and Christmas is a reminder that she doesn't have the money to spoil the people she loves.  She needs the money just to put food on the table.  She is not alone.  We are living in times of austerity.  People are struggling to make ends meet.   I started thinking about what Christmas represents both personally and theologically and how that differs for many people around the world.  I thought about how much pressure we put upon ourselves to try and recreate the media images of the perfect Christmas; about how grumpy I've been feeling this week because I want to try and get all the presents wrapped and feel in control of this one day of the year and my frustration at my plans being constantly thwarted by the never-ending needs of other people.  I thought about all the people for whom this Christmas will not be a picture-perfect happy occasion:  The mum at school who received a call to say her mother had had a stroke and who was desperately trying to hold it together to get her children to school before rushing to her mother's bedside; a friend whose husband is posted overseas with the army and won't be home with his family at Christmas; all the families who have experienced the loss of children and other loved ones in the recent shooting in Connecticut; people around the world who don't have their loved ones with them.

All this made me think about the gifts we give at Christmas and what we are celebrating.

In our house we celebrate Yule as well as Christmas.  We celebrate that the day and night are of equal length and that the sun will slowly be more prominent in our lives again.  The sun that will bring our crops and all the life that is sustained by our sun.  We also celebrate the birth of Jesus, not as traditional Christians, but as an acknowledgement of a man who brought so many incredible messages to our lives.  Most importantly that of love.  Love for everyone.  We also naturally enjoy our family time and all the food and presents.  Who doesn't enjoy that part?

Sadly Christmas often throws a spotlight on what is not right in our lives.  How are lives do not match that picture perfect image that the Coca Cola and John Lewis adverts portray.  For me it highlights the people who are not in my life and the stresses and sadness and complications attached to that.  It can be a very bright spotlight.  It brings me down every year.  Christmas is an emotive time of year for many reasons.  Feelings often seem intensified at this time of year.

But this morning I had a mini epiphany.  Christmas for me is not going to be about all the presents and food this year.  It is going to be a celebration of the people who are in my life.  The people that I love.  The people I choose to spend my time with and that I am grateful that they are actually still here to celebrate with me.  I will raise a glass to all those people who cannot be here in person.  I am not going to worry about everything being perfect.  I am no longer going to feel intimidated by all the glowing pictures on Facebook of perfect trees and perfect systems for organising Christmas and I'm going to accept that this is me.  This is how I do things.  All a bit last minute usually but this is quite a theme in our lives and probably won't change just for one day! This is our family and I'm so lucky to have each and every one of them.  They all bring something into my life.  Some bring more challenges and learning for me but I choose to no longer wallow in those challenges (well at least for the next few weeks! LOL).  This Christmas I'm going to wrap my arms about my daughter, the daughter I didn't think I would ever have, and relish the love we have for each other and how lucky I am to be able to have her in my life.  I'm going to appreciate my husband for all the things he does instead of all the things he doesn't that drive me nuts; I'm going to love myself a little bit more; forgive myself a little bit more and I'm going to love those around me a little bit better by showing them my love. I am so very lucky in so many ways and I'm going to enjoy every single minute of that.

That is my gift this Christmas.

And with this post I am sending my love out to everyone in the world who needs a little love.

Namaste




4 comments:

  1. Two points 1. We don't celebrate Christmas as we are Jewish but I so know what you mean about the Holidays and Festivals taking on new meaning and excitement when you have children to share it with. And 2. I like the idea of celebtating Yule. I must Google it for next year (assuming it's 21st Dec). Thanks for the idea. And I wiah you and your family a very merry Christmas. xxx

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    1. What do you do for this time of year? Do you celebrate in some way for the children or does the Jewish tradition have its own celebration around this time of year?

      Yes Yule is usually around 21st December. It's when the day and night are of equal length. It might vary occasionlly by one day. It's actually a Pagan tradition. We usually to celebrate more than we have this year but this year we're more low key and just having a celebratory dinner. Usually I would see in the dawn and light a Yule log.

      Wishing you and all your family a very merry Christmas and happy and healthy 2013 as well xx

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  2. Lovely post Gem and I'm going to follow your lead by remembering those who are no longer here, whilst enjoying those who are.
    And I might even try to appreciate the things hubby does, rather than doesn't!

    I hope you have the calm, warm, family Christmas you deserve and wish you a peaceful 2013 x

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  3. I am going to extra appreciate having a lovely quiet calm "do what we want (within the limits of money)" Christmas in the hope that the next one will be disrupted by the patter of smaller feet :-)

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