What’s the first thought that popped into your head upon reading that word? Exhaustion? Money? Stress? Whiny kids? Viciously annoying in-laws? Family fights? Tornados? Hurricanes? Blizzards?
Did you tense? Did your shoulders suddenly become your new earrings? Did you want to crawl back into bed and wake up January 2nd? Did your leg start jittering, while you gnaw on your already shredded fingernails? Did you start humming “The 12 Pains of Christmas,” like I did?
Do it now…take a deep, belly full breath, hold it………..now let it out slowly. Let your body relax and your mind release. Feel a little better? Good.
I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the year. Yet, lately, it seems to be more of a chore for me than joy. We decorated our Christmas tree on Sunday (minus the topper because it’s buried in a box somewhere), but just thinking about the rest of the decorations we have to put up made me exhausted! I wondered if it was really worth it to pull out the multitudes of Santas (I collect them), several feet of garland, outdoor lights, and on and on, only to put them back again a month later. I do it over and over, each year, but what’s the point of it all?
I read an article that was brought to my attention by Tea and Cookies blog about how we become so stressed and overwhelmed at the holidays. The article proposes a change in viewpoint. Set aside the question “What do I need for this holiday?,” and instead ask yourself ”What do I want from it?” The answer may surprise you. According to the article, the answers are usually “friends, family, warmth, relaxation, reconnection – not things.”
While presents are wonderful, and we all love getting things, it’s not what I need from Christmas. What matters more to me is the memories of Christmas. Time goes by so fast that I long to cherish those moments full of laughter, tears, quiet, and love. When I remember past Christmases, it’s the people and events that come to mind, not the material things. I’ve realized that what I want from Christmas this year is time and relationships, not more stuff.
Here are the things that I’m loving and planning this Christmas:
- Spending more time with my friend, Malia, to ease her loneliness and strengthen our friendship. We used to spend every day together (we worked at the same place), but our time has become more precious now because we see each other less. Now that her husband is away for training and traveling across the country, it’s even more important to let her know she isn’t alone and she’s loved. Sundays are becoming our traditional get-together day as she comes over and hangs out with us and I cook a special dinner (she’s one of my guinea pigs for this blog!).
- Building my relationship with my Nana. Her days are numbered as she turns 92 in January. She’s had a multitude of health issues and struggles to make it through each day. It’s treasured time that I get to spend with her now since she has moved from North Carolina to Pennsylvania where I live (so my parents can take care of her).
- Renewing my relationship with my brother, Andrew. We aren’t very close, but I pray that can change. Our family is very small and when our parents are gone one day, it will only be just the two of us. I want us to know that we have each other, through good and bad, always.
- I’m working on sending some e-mails to friends to schedule meet-ups, dinner, or any time together. I’m setting some time aside to spend time with friends who I rarely get to see, but mean so much to me.
- I’ll finally send that frog painting I did to my childhood best friend, Wendy, that I’ve been promising to her for years!
- Inge and I are going to take a day to ourselves and do something “out of the ordinary” this Christmas. We need and want the special time. It’s a difficult time for her this year as it is the first Christmas without her mother (she passed away in May). In January, we’re planning a weekend away at a bed and breakfast for a break from the craziness of life.
- I want to fully relax and let go at my bi-weekly massages. It seems a luxury when strapped financially, but without them, my fibromyalgia goes into full-fledged attack mode and I become a miserable beast. So for the benefit of myself and others, I’ll continue the massages.
- I want to engage in the art of mindfulness and continue it throughout the new year. It is a state of active, open attention on the present. When I’m mindful, I observe my thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting my life pass me by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.
That’s what I want from Christmas this year. I want the memories of shared experiences, rather than things that gather dust in the back of my closet.
What do YOU want from Christmas this year?