As I reflected on my Christmas experience last year, I couldn’t help but see that I had once again been swept up in the hype of the season. It’s so easy to do – the commercialisation of the season relentlessly pushes to entice, excite and enthral us at every turn.
In order to prepare for Christmas this year, I started to do some research.
I wasn’t looking for a checklist on how to make my house pretty or what the top ten bestselling presents this season were, I was looking for support on how to stay within myself and be more relaxed during the ‘silly season’ and not get swept up in the frenetic energy that comes from needing to get that perfect present, having a perfectly decorated house, being the best host or creating the best experience for guests.
But I couldn’t find one article that aimed to support this approach; everything I found was there to entice me to do more, to have more.
As I reflected further on last year’s Christmas time, I came to realise that even in scaling back and simplifying, I still had managed to make room for the chaotic energy that drives Christmas. I had hosted Christmas lunch for my family for the first time at my new home, which had the potential to be an amazing experience, had I stopped to fully appreciate and take in the loveliness of the occasion.
What was on offer for myself and my family was an opportunity for us to connect as individuals with no roles being played, just simply enjoying quality time together. It was an opportunity to learn about each other in a different environment, reflect on the year gone by and talk about our hopes for the next.
Unfortunately the full potential of this experience was not met as I allowed myself to get caught up in trying to make things perfect instead of just being there in my fullness, allowing myself and everybody to just be.
I wondered then if it was possible to hold the experience of Christmas as a time for sharing and connecting with family and friends, but also know that the fundamental elements which make this day special can actually be lived every day of the year.
Could it be that I could live openly every day with the people I meet everywhere?
Asking myself what holds me back from doing this, I realised it was a fear of being the real me – not the perfect host, or the perfect partner or daughter – just me. Christmas so often can sweep us away from ourselves, that we forget to just be us.
As I have started to de-construct my ideals around Christmas, and the belief that this was a one day a year affair, I have felt a new found sense of freedom. Instead of beating myself up and lamenting on the opportunity missed last year, I am grateful that I have been able to truly reflect on how it played out, where the moments/openings occurred that swept me away, and where I need to go deeper in my understanding of myself so that I can make different choices this year.
I’ve come to realise that Christmas shouldn’t be a festival we celebrate for just one day a year. Remembering that Christmas can be simply about connection and being comfortable to be the real me only highlights this more, as this can be developed anytime, anyplace, and with anyone. With this understanding I have an opportunity to have another go this year, as we start to build up to the busy Christmas period again.
If connection and being the real me is the name of the game, I don’t even have to wait; I can do that anytime I choose.
By Megan Cairney, Relationship Manager, BBsMn/BA, Brisbane