December, it is often time of ‘too busy’, too many obligations and too much doing. When this really is a time when nature calls us to slow down and turn inward. A time to reflect and celebrate our past year. So many people are working overtime to make the final deadlines and people in retail almost work round the clock to keep up with all the shoppers trying to find that ‘perfect’ gift. And well most of us are feeling dare I use the overused word stressed, stretched and ready to snap.
On the radio we are being bombarded by songs of joy and peace, when we don’t see much of that reflected in our real lives. For many December is a month of stress. Visits to family (now with many people being divorced, this means multiple family visits), the quest for the (there it is again) ‘perfect’ gift, the pressure to cook the most extravagant culinary dishes and on the day we have to look stunning, sparkly and bright ourselves (when all we want to really do is get into our onesie and curl up in a ball on the couch and sleep!). There is just way to much pressure we put on ourselves. Yes on ourselves because it is a choice. We don’t have to try and fit into a picture perfect lie. Okay it is a pretty seductive lie. I myself love cheesy Christmas stuff. I love the romantic movies and the idea of Hollywood perfect Christmas. But think back over the years, when did you really have a wonderful Christmas time? It wasn’t those times when you tried to strive for perfection. It was those years that you stopped trying and let love come in and work its magic. No trying just letting it unfold. Same with New Years, to me the parties are always a letdown as the momentum is just to great and the pressure to have chosen the best party is just too great. The best parties are the ones that spontaneously happen, un an inauspicious day in the year. So let go of all the trying and fixing and let life unfold.
Social Media has also influenced our Christmas stress, as the urge to compare and compete is amplified for the holidays. It looks like everyone has it perfectly together as we see the most extravagant and beautiful pictures flashing from our screens. But please realize that most of this is fake and business related. I myself f like looking at these pictures but I wouldn’t want all that work involved to get that so called ‘perfect’ picture. I have a little bitty bare and naked tree and it is perfect to me. At the end of december I will plant it outside. I just have a few extra lights and ornaments and to me that is perfect. Because please do know and feel that whatever you want is perfect. Because all is perfect already, you just have to see and feel that it is. Let go of the pressure and the guilt. Who says you have to fit into the image that has been created for us by others? Be a square peg, do your own thing.
When we are stressed and under pressure we are often not at our most friendly. I know I’m not. The stressy bitch side of myself I just know a little bit too well and I love her as she is just trying to protect me from the pressure, but she just lacks a little tact. So she has to learn to not latch out and be more mindful. She trips up every now and then, but she is doing much better. Now a lot of people have a family get together for Christmas, or even more than one. And as it is with most families, we don’t always get along with all of the members (this advice goes for all parties by the way, also office parties and such). Now we often know of ourselves whether we get triggered easily and by whom, so come prepared and on forehand decide not to get triggered this time. Be mindful, feel and breathe to calm the fiery emotions. Slow down and try to respond and not react. So don’t just say what pops up, but be mindful of your words, choose them carefully or do not respond at all. And when you are being challenged, know that you can decide to step out of the ‘conversation’, step away to the bathroom or change the subject and see if you can find a topic you have in common with the person triggering you. Avoid deep conversations and keep it light. Also stay away from too much alcohol. Alcohol inhibits us and we are more prone to lash out and say things we later regret. Same with food, don’t stuff away the anger and frustration, don’t try to numb yourself with food. Drink some water and step away. Just keep it simple and let all expectations go. But do set the intention for a calm and peaceful day and be that energy yourself. Radiate that out. Keep returning to your breathe.
For a lot of people Christmas is a time of extra pressure which is very hard to deal with such as people that are prone to depression and people with disordered eating behavior are sensing the pressure of expectation even more. Perfectionism, mood swings and sticking to a diet have great influence on stresslevels.
Another day at the office
Now at work it is a bit harder to ‘control’ or uncontrol really, as there is often just too much to do in too little time. We often can’t influence the amount of work that needs to be done, but we can change our attitude towards it. If at all possible ofcourse see if you can stretch the deadlines. How strict are they? And if they are really strict, focus and don’t let your energy drain to other distractions, tasks or thoughts. Focus on the task at hand and do one thing at a time. Take plenty of breaks, stretch and go out to catch a bit of daylight (even if it’s raining or snowing). Take good care of yourself. Eat and drink properly (away from the desk), don’t try and raise your energy with sugar and carbs and take time to silence your mind. Meditate or just stare outside the window. When we are busy we often just keep going and going and going without proper rest and reflection and then we just burn out. And this is the way most of us go through daily life. Not enough time for rest and reflection and that is exactly what we are called to do this month.
Now I want to acknowledge all people for whom Christmas is extra hard, not because they have so many parties to go or organise, but because they are alone. We often forget how many people have no one who shares Christmas or New Years with them. If you know anyone who may be alone and you have the space, it is a very heartwarming deed to invite this person over for Christmas. And if you don’t have means to do this, please burn a candle and send blessings to all that are alone, all the year, but especially on these days it is hard. Also burn a candle and bless all loved ones that are not with us anymore. They are especially greatly missed on these days.
Keep it simple
Now without my great friends I would be the person alone for Christmas
We are keeping it simple. Everyone brings a dish and it can be something readymade from the grocery store or a simple pasta dish. All is welcome. And if you like cooking and have the time (like me) making something elaborate is also welcome. All is perfect. No gifts, no special plans. Just getting together and celebrating life.
And that is my theme for 2018 Celebrating and truly living life!
So do it your way. Make Christmas simple again, not a big money making scheme that it has become. Do not feed the frenzy. Make this a time of quiet and deep connection, to yourself, to others and to mother nature. And if you want to gift gifts, make them yourself of give an experience. There is too much stuff in this world already. Don’t feed the whole commercial Christmas money scheme. Unplug. Do it YOUR way.
Now in the past year I have even fled the country at Christmas to avoid all of the drama. Now this is an option. Being alone on a beach somewhere to me sounds like a great plan, but it is not something everyone can afford or wants for that matter. This year I am looking forward to listening to cheesy songs and being with my friends. And I will privately be celebrating Yule, just me and Mama Nature.
Now I haven’t even mentioned the birth of Christ, the event we are all celebrating on Christmas or so we have been told (that is another story). Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time”) was and is a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht. It later underwent Christianised reformulation resulting in the term Christmastide. Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are used in the Nordic countries for Christmas with its religious rites, but also for the holidays of this season. Today Yule is also used to a lesser extent in the English-speaking world as a synonym for Christmas. Present day Christmas customs and traditions such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from pagan Yule. Today the event is celebrated in Heathenry and some other forms of Modern Paganism.The Yule season is full of magic, much of it focusing on rebirth and renewal, as the sun makes its way back to the earth. Focus on this time of new beginnings with your magical workings!
I don’t really share about these celebrations much as I do them in private. I am a solitary witch. But I feel more and more to share this side of me as well. Calling myself a witch brought up a lot of pain for me. Pain from the past and past lives, pain that I had not yet healed, to fully step up and say it out loud (or write it down in public). But here goes. My witchiness is growing inside of me. Rekindling my power and connection. But this is for some other time, as I was now sharing about Christmas and Yule.
Finally, I want to really encourage you to consider daily practices you can incorporate to help you recharge this holiday season. Knowing that everyone’s stress is elevated this time of year, I believe the best blessing we can offer to the world around us is to show up with a calm, confident presence knowing we have enough and we are enough in each moment. Not rushing or spreading ourselves too thin, but resting in trust and faith that we’re all on a journey and we’re better together.
Know that we often put the pressure on ourselves and others do not do this to us. We have to power to change how we show up. And there is no shame in asking for help and/or proposing change. Be that change.
I’m excited to see what the new year will bring, and eager to share more with you in the near future. I hope you have a wonderful holiday full of many blessings, and that you’ll continue to be a blessing to those around you.
You don’t have to fit in with the image of Christmas and perfection.
Dear Winter, I give thanks for the reminder to keep it simple and slow down.
Time to retreat and treat myself right with loving kindness.
And so it is!
Much joy to you
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