How often do we live our lives according to other people’s rules. It can be so easy to go through life responding to old beliefs, society’s messages, other people’s wants. This time of year can be particularly stressful and difficult for people. There seems to be so much pressure to buy the right gift, prepare the right food, decorate the right way! So how about this year, you do what you want.
Radical I know!!
Celebrate Christmas, don’t celebrate Christmas, invite 30 people, invite no-one, get away somewhere or stay in bed all day, put on your favourite outfit or stay in your pjs, have the biggest and best Christmas you’ve ever dreamed of or treat the day as just another. Whatever works for you.
Even after 25 years of living in Australia, Christmas doesn’t feel familiar here. I grew up in the UK, Christmas was dark and cold and the streets were decorated almost everywhere you went, there were Christmas markets selling hot mulled wine which helped keep your hands warm and took the chill off just for a little while.
This time of year reminds me how far away and disjointed my own family of origin is, I am also reminded of how much my baby boy is no longer a child but a young adult moving further into his own life. This brings with it joy and pride in the man he is becoming and sadness and grief for the loss of that significant parenting role I have played for two decades. No longer does he wake me in the early hours to go and see if he has presents under the tree. This brings mixed feelings – such sweet memories of the past and how lovely to just sleep in!!
For the past few weeks I have listened to my own internal dialogue along with messages from others and certainly marketers about how I “should” have the house decorated, “should” have the food ordered, “should” be merry and bright….. and then it struck me …. I didn’t want to do all those things and I wasn’t feeling merry and bright about Christmas. I just want to do things in a way that suit me and my family, so that is what I am doing. No tree for the first time in, well I don’t know how long, no decorations all over the house to be cleared away when I’d rather be resting, no hours planning grand menus and no going broke over mass present buying.
What we will have is each other, love, gratitude, rest , relaxation, minimised stress, some beautiful (and easy to prepare) food!, chocolate, definitely chocolate and Christmas Eve together watching Shrek the Halls, because that is a tradition that no matter how old my baby boy becomes, I don’t want to ever give up (hope he doesn’t either!)
My internal critic still pipes up with annoying comments about how I’m being lazy, not getting into the festive spirit, the house would look nicer covered in decorations …. and then she appears. Solid and steadfast, loving and comforting, assuring me that it is ok to do things the way I want to do them and not confirm to outside pressures or old beliefs. She is wise and strong and caring, she loves me as I am, no matter what I do. She has known me my whole life and yet I have only in recent years grown to know her. She is certainly worth knowing.
She is my compassionate self.
Blog post written by Dr Hayley Quinn, Clinical Psychologist (and Imperfect Human), with a particular focus on women’s and children’s well-being, and interest in anxiety, trauma related issues and grief and loss. Hayley is passionate about working with a compassion focus to assist people to make the changes they desire. Hayley enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking and appreciating beautiful art. She is also president of Compassionate Mind Australia.