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How to have the Christmas you'll always remember

I’ve been lucky to have experienced 70 Christmases in my lifetime. Yep, I said 70. That’s kinda crazy when you think about it. But every year about this time I feel torn about the holidays.  

There are two things that get me:

  1. The commercialism around Christmas and the pressure all around to buy, buy, buy...way before December 25 rolls around.   AND
  2. The people who are not as lucky as I am, who don’t have a loving family or have huge losses, depression, trauma, or addiction. The holidays can highlight what they don’t have and make their situation seem even more difficult to deal with. 

I think about what if there was a way that we could all be kind, grateful, present, and have a Christmas we’ll always remember. What if?

Christmas can be very stressful. And it can be wonderful. 

How do you want this one to be? 

Remember last year? Most of us were at home, unable to see or be with our families because of Covid. It was a sad time.

I remember seeing my grans at a distance to give them their presents, outside, and with masks.  Even seeing that photo now makes me sad. 

Yet we all adapted. We got through it and made it work with Zoom, Facetime, and social distancing to see our families.  We changed our plans and lowered our expectations.

Here's a photo of my Vanuatu kids participating in a Christmas eve zoom call with our family here in the US. We sang carols and played games. It was a special day of being together and I felt happy and grateful we could gather this way. 

This year Christmas, fortunately, will be different.  Families can be together, thanks to the vaccine.  

Be present in the moments

I don’t know about you but this year, I’m planning to savor every moment. 

Wherever you find yourself, I invite you to take some time to really be present with the moments that go by so quickly.  Look each person in the eye and truly see who they are.  Be with them.  Stop the rushing around and relax. 

It breaks my heart to know that some people will be alone during the holidays without family or friends.  

May we all be kind and reach out to lift someone up whose holidays are depressing. 

If you’re one of those struggling, please choose to do something for yourself that brings you comfort and peace.  

Decide what you will do ahead of time. What are things that will nourish and bring you pleasure?

Give that to yourself. Nurture yourself.

Find ways to be grateful. 

Even if your heart is broken, be grateful for what you still have. Start with your body and that you can breathe. 

Go for a walk if you can and notice the trees, the sky, the beauty of it all, and let it take your worries away. 

If you’re depressed or feeling down reach out to someone who can help. Most people are more than willing to help if you just ask.  

Overconsuming at Christmas time

It takes courage to resist overspending. We can unconsciously overspend in hopes we will make someone happy or fill the hole we have inside ourselves.  

We have enough stuff.

Instead of overconsuming, let's think about how to make the holidays less about buying and more about giving in a different way. 

Let's be kind to the environment. Instead of all the spending why not give the gift of experiences and create memories?

Here are some ideas to switch things up and perhaps help you feel more connection and joy with your loved ones.  

Ideas for Presents this Christmas

  1. Give the gift of time: a mother-daughter spa day, a special date night, tickets to a movie with your grandchildren.
  2. Give the gift of learning: drumming class, cooking classes, yoga classes, an art class you take together
  3. Give the gift of service: childcare, massage, something from your kitchen made by you.
  4. Repurpose something you have that you know the other person would love: a piece of jewelry, a book, a framed picture, china.
  5. A subscription to something: a magazine, a box of organic veggies, a box of bulbs to plant, a self-care box.
  6. Make a slideshow of photos you've made of your family or a photo book 

Share the wealth  

1. Donate money to a local, national or international charity.

2. Bring food donations to your local soup kitchen.

3. Buy a homeless person a Christmas dinner.

4. Purchase a toy for a child from a Christmas giving tree

Express Gratitude

Cultivate gratitude. Every night at dinner say 3 things you're grateful for. 

Start now and make family appreciation mini love notes. At dinner each night, have each person write a small note of what they like about the other person…to be read on Christmas morning at breakfast. 

We did this when my boys were young and I got lots of "do we have to" but on Christmas morning, everyone loved it.  

Before Christmas is here

Pause. Take a few minutes to have a cup of tea by yourself and watch the birds in your backyard or the sunset. Imagine how you'd like your Christmas to be.

Imagine looking back on all your Christmases and you could say…that was the best one. What would make you remember it that way? 

Write in your journal what you think about where you are in your life and what you want for this special time and as you go into the new year. 

Ask someone in your family to give you a surprise for Christmas that doesn't cost any money. 

I did that once. I asked my sons for a Christmas surprise. They were on a visit to Lake Tahoe and on returning, they brought back a cooler full of snow and we made a snowman together. I'm smiling as I remember this memory. It was a delightful Christmas surprise and I won't ever forget how much fun we all had making that little snowman. (who, by the way, didn't melt for several hours). 

It's about mindset...no matter what you have going on in your life. You get to choose that for the holidays, even though you may be alone, you can choose how you want this time to be. 

For me, I want to savor every precious moment I'm with my family. I want to be grateful for the family I can see and hold close to me. And I want to let go of sadness at not being able to see my 3 grandchildren who live far away. 

Over to you:

I challenge you to choose how you will make this Christmas one of the ones that you remember the most. 

Wherever you are this season, how can you bring peace and loving kindness to yourself and others?

Here are some of my posts that may help now: 

Say Goodbye to Heartbreak to Create Your Best Life

How to Navigate Times When it's Hard to be Grateful

Love Yourself More and Be Less Hard on Yourself

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Friday 25 September - Sunday 27 September

Fall is a time for us to slow down, to ground ourselves and to nourish our bodies. This retreat is designed to help you stop and listen to what it is you need right now. It's a fun and restorative weekend with mindfulness exercises, morning yoga, an online cooking class with the fabulous Chef Bai, healthy recipes to try at home, meditations and group calls to connect you with other women.