You are more than the presents you give. You are more than the menu you serve up. You are more than how wide you can make your child smile on Christmas morning. Though turn on the TV or the Internet for five minutes and you could be forgiven for feeling mistaken! Such is the assault on our senses that is marketing at this time of year.
So how do we soak up the magic, and discard the rest? Manage our anxiety levels and not buy into the hype? By getting really present (pun intended) and recognising that Christmas is a social and religious construct, based on a lovely story, that every smart-thinking consumer-oriented business is capitalising on, and has been for decades.
Now as I sit here writing, I’m enjoying the lush sensory experience of my fresh-cut Christmas tree and twinkling lights, so I’m more than happy to indulge in this illusion for all the wonder, magic and connection it brings, but with boundaries.
Because we humans are wired for pleasure. Our animal nature is so wonderfully seduced by it, that we spend money we don’t have on stuff we don’t need, spend half our days on social media (did you know the red notification flag is designed to trigger the brain’s reward centres?!), and we’re so addicted to being liked and accepted by others, that we'll let outside opinions override the yearnings of our own soul.
Making Christmas meaningful for you means creating the spaciousness to sit with the question ‘What do I want it to mean for me, my family and my community?’ It’s a wonderful opportunity to create rituals that will bring a lifetime of memories – of warmth, connection, and simple giving and receiving.
It requires us to notice when the conversations we have with ourselves contain the words ‘I should…’ and flip it. Why should we? Who said? Could I do something in this situation that is a more authentic expression of who I am and my beliefs, and the values I want to instill in my family?
It means getting honest with ourselves if we nudge towards indulgence. What is that compensation for? How could some presence and gratitude shift that perspective?
It’s easy to head to the shops and lavish presents on those we love. Buy way more food than what we need. But true richness comes with connecting deeply within and with those we love at this time of year. To reflect on what’s been, to honour each other, slow down and create intention. Drop the expectations of how anyone ‘should be’, too. As soon as we allow someone to be exactly who they are, and notice that our ‘pushed buttons’ are exactly that – our own, we can truly enjoy Christmas.
Bridget Wood is Director and Events Manager of Suburban Sandcastles and Co-Founder of Nourishing The Mother. She's a lover of life and connecting people to themselves through wisdom, introspection and quality questions. With an insatiable appetite for knowledge and a desire to understand the bigger picture of human behaviour and how the world works, Bridget is on an inspired path to learn more deeply who we are beyond the limitations that we, and our society and culture, place upon us.