Sunday, November 23, 2008

Approaching Christmas – Part 1

The last week has flown by. I've been having blogging withdrawals as the real world has been interfering with my blogging routine. We have hit that frantic time where some things are winding up, other things are getting started and it's all has to happen at once. Apologies in advance for I fear next week will be even worse.

With Christmas just around the corner many people are gearing up for the frenzied period of preparation, although by the amount of traffic that I saw yesterday down town I think it's well and truly started. It is perhaps an appropriate time to reflect on our actions during the holiday period, refocus on what is important and perhaps commit to taking a different approach this year.

We need to assess where the real value in this Christmas period is. It might be a combination of things. For me it is about celebrating the birth of Jesus but it is also about being able to spend some quality time with family. For others spending time with family might be the main focus as it may be the only time of year when everyone gets together. It could be that it is a period of rest and relaxation, a time to recharge the batteries set goals for the year ahead.

With the real value back in focus, take some time to evaluate the way you celebrate. Are you doing things that enhance the experience or are you doing things that actually take away from the experience? Does the way you approach the holiday period create a place where you can enjoy the company of your family or does it create tension and angst. Are you carving out a space that will allow you and your loved ones a place to relax or are you racing around, adding to your stress levels by trying find that perfect gift and spending money that you can't really afford to spend?

With these things in mind consider the action that you might be able to take in order recapture the real meaning of Christmas for you. Last year I decided to avoid as much of the commercialism and materialism as I could. Instead of fighting with the crowds at the shopping centres I spent time with my friends making gingerbread houses. Instead of stressing about being able to afford truckloads of presents that may or may not be appreciated, I stopped looking at catalogues; we set a budget and went for meaningful gifts. Last year I enjoyed the Christmas period much more than I had for a long time, the scrooge in me from previous Christmases had disappeared.

This year I plan to do some similar things, only rather than simply avoiding things that take away from the Christmas experience I want to do things that will actually add to it. I'm also aware the Christmas is not always a time of celebration. The problems of the world do not go away just because our calendar declares that we have some days off work. In our hometowns Christmas only emphasises the difficulties and grief for some people and in other parts of the world suffering continues.

Tomorrow I will post some simple suggestions for how you can add to the value of your own Christmas celebrations while spreading some Christmas cheer to those who need it most. In the meantime take some time to consider what you would like your holiday period to look like and what you can do to avoid the traditional traps and take action to enhance the experience for you and those around you.

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