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Yes, that wonderful time of year that gets us all doing lots of things we don't want to and end up frazzled in a lump at the end of it. Bah humbug!
Why? Think about it.
I love Christmas. I really do. I love seeing lots of my friends and family. I love the music, parties, presents, lights and decorations. I love Father Christmas, watching kids unwrap toys. I love buying gifts for everyone I love and watching them open them. I love a beautiful Carol Concert and watching a nativity play. But about 2 years ago, I had a Christmas where it all felt too much. Too much shopping, too much cleaning up before and after all the parties, too many visitors, too little time for the children to enjoy their new gifts, just too much.
It made me think. What are we doing it for? Now, religious or not, Christmas is supposed to be a time of goodwill, peace, a celebration of giving, love for our fellow (wo)men. Well, that Christmas, it felt nothing of the sort. My friends and I often joke about how we feel like we've run a marathon after Christmas. All the preparation and expense can make even the most organised, seemly self contained person feel overwhelmed.
So, I want you to think what do you actually want out of this festive period? I worry that the 'mass consumption' ends up taking over the main event, which for me is about giving love to those around me.
This year, let's promise to apply some common sense and a dash of good coaching to all that we do for a great Christmas.
To start with why not get a metaphor that makes you go at the preparations in a positive state. Christmas is an oasis of calm with the ones you love. Christmas is a fabulous production to be shared with friends and family. Christmas is a gift for you to give to others. Whatever you start with in your mind, you'll get as a result. The year I told myself it was a marathon, it felt like a marathon. What's your metaphor going to be?
Next, it's your Christmas too. So make your needs matter in the planning of Christmas. Enlist help, don't control everything or you'll end up a martyr. (Guilty as charged!) make sure there is space for you to relax, as well as everyone else. I'm lucky in that our family rule is one person cooks, the other tidies up the mess, so all the work isn't on one person's shoulders. Is everyone sat watching the TV, listening to music, playing with their toys while you work like a dog? More fool you. Ask for help by saying you too want to join in and then you can all crack out the Monopoly, Charades, Wii, whatever rocks your world, instead of you missing out on the fun. A happy, less resentful you is much nicer to be around. Make the tasks play for the kids and they'll be happy to join in. Get some music on and dance tidy! Above all don't try to achieve perfect. It's one day and it's over in a flash. Like at a wedding, often the things that go a bit wrong are the most treasured memories. Since Life Coaching grabbed me, I'm a big believer in the 'perfection of imperfection.'
Enjoy the process. Live in the now. Instead of steaming round the shops in a daze and cleaning the house as if the Queen were about to arrive, stop. Think about what you are doing and why? Enjoy the moment of choosing a special gift. Feel the Christmas tree decorations as you place them on the branches of the tree, listen to Christmas songs as you do all the tasks and enjoy the flashing lights. Smell the gorgeous food and be thankful for everything you have in your life.
Ask yourself this. Who will you be spending time with? If you surround yourself with negative people at Christmas, it's likely to be a negative experience. I'm not suggesting you ditch the moaning uncle or the bitchy sister (These are examples, not real people in my life!), however, you deserve to have a positive Christmas filled with fun and laughter, so set the boundaries and organise to meet them on your terms so you can leave when you can feel they are starting to drain you of good energy.
No matter how much you have going on in your life right now; grief, money worries, relationship issues, problems with children, not able to have children, etc, you can find enjoyment and pleasure in the simplest thing right now. Someone lets you out at the busy junction on your way to the shops, the star at the top of the tree, a gift from a loved one, a smile from someone receiving your gift, the look on a childs' face on Christmas morning. Look around you. Enjoy getting to Christmas day by enjoying what you are doing right now.
If you are not enjoying what you are doing, ask yourself, why you are doing it then? Perhaps, it's time to stop?
Get organised and prioritise all the jobs you have to do right now.
1. Get a piece of paper and write down everything you need to do in the next two weeks.
2. Organise it into areas. E.g. Home, Work, Fitness, Study... whatever it might be.
3. Prioritise high, medium, low. Now look again. Which ones should you do and which ones do you choose to do because they will bring you the feeling of contentment or excitement you want? Can any of the should's go?
4. Ask yourself do you have to do the said task or could someone else do it with you or for you? If so, get the support or pass over the task. Job done.
For me Christmas is about giving and that can mean to those who have less than us or who are having a difficult time. Sit and think, is there someone you could reach out to this Christmas who might need a friendly face? Is there a charity you've been meaning to support, but not got round to it? Is there a homeless person you could buy a cup of tea and give a smile to, so they feel like they still exist? Is there an elderly person living in your street who doesn't seem to have any support, will you take them a card? It doesn't have to be a grand gesture but that small act of giving could be the greatest gift you give this Christmas and it might only cost you time.
For me Christmas is a great time. I have planned several big gatherings to see the people I love most in the world and give them hospitality, fun and love.
There will be many things on my to do list but at the top I will be writing:
Enjoy this time.
And if all else fails and you hit New Year feeling like an over cooked turkey, then come to my New Year Clearing Workshop and get your head straight. (click above)
How will you start your Christmas to do list? Let me know in the comments below.