The Christmas Spirit
“Maybe Christmas (he thought) doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more” – The Grinch
Christmas has always been my most favourite time of the year, despite the fact my birthday also falls on Christmas Eve. A look of sympathy is often thrown my way, when I tell people
this, as they assume I’m missing out, but I always take great delight in reassuring them that nothing could be further from the truth
You see, Christmas (and my Birthday) have always been, quite literally, “the most wonderful time of the year” as it’s the time we get to be reunited as a family, and spend quality time together. For seven years now, we have travelled overseas to celebrate this ‘most happiest season of all’.
However, as I write this post, it just doesn’t feel the same.
Once again (thanks to the pandemic) we will be unable to be together as a family. It’s hard to comprehend that it’s been two long years since we’ve seen one another -It feels like a lifetime!
That’s another whole year blank in our family’s photo album, (and you all know how much I love taking pics and adding them to the family album) and I can honestly say we’ve been really struggling to get into the Christmas spirit this year.
Last year seemed hard to fathom, but we got through Christmas okay, as we were certain
it would be just this once we’d have to celebrate it being apart.
How wrong we were! – and in hindsight, thankful we didn’t know what lay ahead.
And now, I have to admit, there’s been many a moment I just wish Christmas would come and go already, as its just keeps conjuring up all of those wonderful memories and the fact that we have to face another Christmas apart.
However, as down as I may feel, I’m never one to dwell on the negatives for too long. I’ve decided to beat the Christmas blues and not give the Grinch the satisfaction of stealing all of my Christmas joy. I’ve made a conscious decision to throw myself into the rituals of Christmas, which I know will bring me much peace and comfort. I’m also allowing myself those moments that make me a little sad too, as it’s more than okay to be missing the ones you love.
Christmas isn’t just one day is it? It’s all the preparations and traditions in the weeks and days leading up to it, that help add to the anticipation and excitement of that one special day.
Traditions such as decorating the Christmas tree and singing Christmas Carols, Christmas shopping, and attending Christmas parties and catching up with old friends ( to name a few) all add to the joy and spirit of the holiday season.
So, I’ve dragged out the Christmas tree, despite not feeling in the mood, and hung the decorations whilst singing my favourite Christmas carols - and yes, a few sentimental tears have been shed when hanging the kids photo ornaments! I’ve also put hubby to work hanging the Christmas lights and hanging the wreath upon the door, and yes, it has definitely all helped lift the spirits immensely.
I’ve also gone ahead and made a Christmas card list, and a list of people I’d like to catch up with who we haven’t seen in quite a while. I guess I’m still pretty old fashioned in the fact I like to write and post Xmas cards, - you may be surprised how many people still love to receive them in the mail, myself included!
Donating time, or a few spare dollars to charities is also a nice way to think outside of your own troubles, especially at this time of the year, so I’ve donated what I can afford to give.
I find giving to others always helps you to feel more grateful for the blessings you do have in your life, and makes your own troubles feel somewhat smaller.
Hubby and I have also started our usual family tradition of watching Christmas movies together, which has brought back lots of happy memories of Christmas’s past, making us laugh and cry at the same time. Crying and laughter are, I think as important as each other, and I have to say I do manage to do both extremely well! -Hey a poet always wears her heart on her sleeve, right?
Hubby then went ahead and surprised me by taking us out to dinner, and afterwards, for a game of Christmas putt putt (mini golf), something we hadn’t done in
years! This simple outing was just what we needed. It was nice to just be able to go out to dinner after all the Covid restrictions we’d had during the year, and to play golf under the stars, surrounded by all the pretty Christmas lights and decorations. It was also a great feeling to be amongst other people, chatting and enjoying the Christmas festivities.
Making the effort to be kind to ourselves and have some fun definitely helped lift our spirits and we started to actually feel a little more excited about Christmas approaching.
That’s not to say we’re still not caught off guard by the tears that come without warning ,over the tiniest little thing, be it from a familiar song, or a cheesy line from a Christmas movie.
We often joke about how sentimental we’re getting as we get older, but I think it’s just we learn to appreciate the things that matter the most.
The announcement that our state borders will finally be opening in time for families to be re-united in Australia for Christmas is such wonderful news! But it’s also a little bittersweet as we watch the constant re-plays on television, of families being re-united at the airport gates. But it also gives us hope that God willing, next year, it too shall be us!
So, I guess I just really want to draw attention to the fact that not everyone may be feeling the Christmas spirit this year, for whatever reason, and the importance of looking out for those who are feeling vulnerable and alone. I’m writing about it, because I’m experiencing it too right now.
Please take the time to spare a thought for those who may be feeling a little low, and do what you can to help make them feel a little of the joy and happiness that you’re blessed to be experiencing right now, for you never know when that person might be you.
Just because its Christmas doesn’t mean peoples troubles go away. Illness, loneliness, homelessness, unemployment etc still remain, in fact they’re usually magnified tenfold at this time of the year.
It doesn’t take much to make a difference. Time is the most precious thing you can give, and a listening ear or shoulder to lean on if needed, can be the kindest gift you can give someone.
You have the power to share some real Christmas spirit just by being there and listening to someone when they need it most.
When someone says to me “Oh, that must be so hard, you must be missing your kids so much”, it really makes a difference, it doesn’t make me sad. It makes me feel as though someone understands and I feel less alone, and that my feelings are justified. Telling me to be thankful for facetime (which of course I am already) just makes me feel alone and as though I’m being ungrateful, even though I know people say it with the best of intentions.
If you do lend an ear, please remember to listen with compassion and
understanding for their circumstances.
Pick up the phone and call that friend or family member you’ve been ‘too busy’ to call. Or, if calling isn’t your thing, send them a message and ask how they’re
doing and perhaps arrange a time to catch up if they’d like to, or simply pop a Xmas card in the mail.
I know things have been hard with Covid and restrictions, but it’s often the smallest gestures that can literally be the boost that someone needs to get through the day, weeks , and even the months ahead.
I love to send Xmas cards and photos, and I also love to write poems to those who are near and dear to me. It brings me such joy to write them, and I’ve never had anyone not be delighted in receiving a poem that tells them all the wonderful things I love and admire the most about them. But you don’t have to be a poet to do that – just simply show people those things in the best way you know how.
It could be the kind gesture of inviting someone to dinner – or better still, Christmas Day, if they wish to celebrate. And be mindful of how you invite them. Don’t ask them if they have somewhere to go. Invite them as if you would anybody else – no one likes to be thought of as an afterthought.
Giving doesn’t have to be a fancy gift either. You can always make something if your crafty or bake some Christmas treats if that’s what you love to do. Of course buying little gifts, if you can afford them, is always a lovely gesture too. It really is the thought that counts, and people always just appreciate the fact you took the time to think of them.
So, this Christmas I am choosing to count my blessings ,despite the Grinch stealing what matters most.
Here are a few things on my ‘thankful list’ I have jotted down:
I’m thankful for the love of my beautiful family and so thankful that they are safe and well, even though we can’t be together in person right now.
I’m thankful we have a roof over our heads and plenty of fresh wonderful food on our table
I’m thankful for our blue summer sky, and the natural beauty of our beaches and rainforests that bring me the greatest joy when I go hiking, and thankful its all here to explore, right on my doorstep. We are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful country.
And last, but no means least:
I’m thankful for the new blessings that have come my way: Writing, poetry, art and the new friendships I have made. Without Covid, and lockdowns, I would not have gone down this new creative path. So, out of the darkness, also comes light in the most astonishing ways!
I could keep going, but the list would be too long, which is a good thing, for the more things we think of to be thankful for, the more thankful we become.
So, in closing, I want to wish you all the most wonderful Christmas. May you celebrate it by being thankful and generous in spirit to others, and kind to yourselves, and may you find joy in the moments that matter most!
And, hopefully, if the fates allow, the pandemic will have moved on this time next year, and I’ll be writing you this blog from far across the ocean, with an up- to- date Christmas pic that is long overdue for the family photo album.
Oh, I almost forgot - I wish to thank you Mr Grinch, for reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas.
For by denying the things we hold most dear, they’ve become even more precious – you can never steal Christmas from us, as hard as you may try, for it’s tucked away safely in our hearts!
Take care and stay safe.