1. The power of parents
Especially if you find yourself ‘ going home’ to your parents, or even having them over to your house, you are likely to find yourself regressing into old childhood behaviours and feelings. The likelihood of this increases the longer you are around the parents! It always used to amaze me how after a couple of days I could hear a whiny tone in my voice occasionally, instead of asking directly for what I wanted. Watch out for when you feel like a child again, and take some time out to address those needs for yourself at an inner level, instead of trying to get them met from your parents or others around you – that didn’ t work in the past, and it still won’ t work now.
2. Take time for yourself
This might be thought of as sacrilegious at a time which is mostly associated with giving to others. But your giving will only be true giving if you are willing to give to yourself too. Otherwise it is easy for it to be tainted with resentment, duty, and other victim-like feelings. If you know that you tend towards this kind of experience, prepare yourself in advance by deciding that you will take some time out each day just for you. It could be a walk alone; a long bath; a nap in your bedroom. Communicate what you are going to do in a clear and firm way; be clear about it and be willing to take care of yourself even if others don’ t like it.
3. Set boundaries and keep to them
If you have kids this might seem terribly unfair. But children especially, respond well to boundaries being set and kept. Obviously Christmas Day is going to be a bit different, but it is set up that way weeks in advance, with children knowing it will be different. However that doesn’ t mean that you are lax on the day itself regarding bedtimes, mealtimes etc. If you say something, keep to it. If the kids are having lots of sugar, make sure they get to run around a lot, otherwise you and they will suffer later! Remember that everyone, not just children, respond better when well-rested, well-fed and well-exercised. So factor in these needs and structure your day around them.
4. Disappointment, the hidden secret
For years I hid the fact that I was secretly disappointed at the end of each Christmas Day. I just thought there was something wrong with me, and
gave myself a hard time about it. The way to avoid this is to manage your expectations in advance. Better still, don’ t have any! Easier said than done, but now what I do if visiting family is to remind myself that I am no longer a child, with all the needs I had then. Instead I ask myself what I really want for Christmas (not usually a present, more often a long walk, or a meaningful connection with a friend) and find a way to ensure I get that. Then I’ m able to really enjoy the family gathering.
5. Abundance isn’t a second helping of Christmas dinner
Boring as it might sound, I know I enjoy myself a whole lot more when I’ m not suffering from an over-full stomach and too much alcohol. This might sound like it is a dampener on proceedings, but here’ s how to do it: take a very long time indeed over eating your Christmas meal. Simple really! Rest your knife and fork between each mouthful; really savour the delicious tastes; remind yourself that the joy is in the quality not the quantity of food you consume. Get into conversation instead. With the alcohol, keep noticing how it feels when you are sipping away, and commit to stopping when you find you just aren’ t enjoying it as much anymore. Knowing that this is true abundance, rather than stuffing yourself from an attitude of ‘ I must eat and drink this because it’ s Christmas’ , will provide you with the pleasure of a Christmas Day that is conscious and enjoyable instead of overstuffed, heavy and with the irritations that go along with this. (Now Jane, remember to take a dose of your own medicine here!)
6. Remember the Spirit of Christmas
Remember the point of Christmas in the first place. While it is so often now seemingly just about materialism, there are still moments when you can cultivate a peaceful place inside, away from all the festivities and into the celebration of the Christ within, ie your inner light. The darkest time of the year is now, the light is returning, and you can have that light within you shining strongly. Foster that connection and you’ ll find you’ re having a very different time.
7. Christmas happens in your head despite appearances
Yup – in the end it’ s up to you whether you enjoy yourself or not. You may find you are bored silly by Great Uncle Sam, or irritated by dear little Jenny, but ultimately how you respond to these situations is down to you. You can let them affect you and put the blame out there onto others for causing you upset at Christmas, or you can remind yourself that they are simply offering you a mirror in which you can see an aspect of yourself. No matter what, opt to be loving, towards yourself and others, and bring the real spirit of Christmas into your holiday.