Christmas. What does it conjure up for you? Is it nothing but hustle and bustle, stress, money worries, who wants what and from where, etc. Or is it a chance to see family and friends, enjoy delicious food and drink, observe the excitement of the children in the build-up to the Big Day, watch rubbish television and fall asleep after consuming too many sprouts and Christmas pudding? Not to mention listening to never-ending Christmas “muzak” and Noddy Holder’s interminable “Merry Christmas Everybody” song everywhere you go!
Christmas is all things to all people. It can be a time of great excitement, jubilation and celebration but for many people, especially those living on their own or having lost loved ones, it can also be a time for reflection, loneliness and sadness.
For me, it’s a bit of both! I absolutely adore the magic of Christmas with the wonderful decorations and beautiful street lighting; the exterior of many homes and shops all decked up with various versions of Father Christmas and his entourage; the delicious smells of Christmas markets and the glow of the stalls; the special candle-lit church services and the sounds of the traditional Christmas carols which have been sung throughout the centuries. What I don’t like is the pressure that’s put on people to buy ever-more expensive goods which they often can’t afford; the overwhelming amount of presents children receive these days which they often don’t value or just dismiss and I particularly dislike the blatant commercialisation of the season.
The current severe economic climate will be very worrying for many people and the extra pressure of Christmas will not help their mental or financial health. Maybe now’s the time for us all to re-evaluate what’s important in life and try to teach children the value of giving rather than the amount the gifts cost! I know several people who, this year, are having to make real cut-backs to the amount they can afford to spend on gifts. Some people are making their own creative presents with unusual and inexpensive items which will have had more thought and love put into them than just buying them off the shelf. I’ve read in the past that even the Royal Family make or buy small unusual and very personal gifts, despite the fact that most of them are multi-millionaires!
Maybe it’s also the time for people to remember what Christmas is REALLY all about – the joy of giving and the time when God sent Jesus to earth.
For people who want to enjoy a more authentic Christmas this year, maybe the following suggestions might help:
1) Try to connect to the deeper meaning of Christmas rather than just the glitz.
2) Help someone by making their life better, even in a small way.
3) Celebrate the season with forgiveness if you’ve been offended.
4) Create a new “family” of friends to celebrate with or volunteer at a local charity.
5) Make it fun and festive and do something really unusual.
6) Do what you love – hobbies/interests/watch a feel-good film/enjoy a lovely meal/listen to a favourite piece of music.
7) Do something nice for your neighbours – leave a “Secret Santa” gift/make or bake something, etc.
8) List all the things that are wonderful in your life – “count your blessings” as they say!
9) Get up, get dressed, get out! Don’t mope indoors.
10)Buy yourself a meaningful gift.
And, most of all, make God and Jesus the focus of the Christmas season!
Recent from the Heart Dr Michelle Byrne