With the rise of events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other general pre-Christmas sales, it’s becoming harder each year to remember that Christmas isn’t about shopping or 50% off. For those of us who celebrate it, Christmas is instead a time to celebrate life and to be thankful for what we have, not to be annoyed at what we haven’t received (…I know, it’s hard.. especially when that Apple iWatch looks so darn good!). It’s easy to be ‘mindless’ about the true meaning of this time of year and to be with our family, but to not truly be present.
According to a study in 2012, the average family will have at least 5 arguments on Christmas Day, but perhaps we could change that this year if we decided to approach the festivities in a mindful way.
‘Love the giver more than the gift’ – Brigham Young
So, here are my tips for embracing a mindful festive time!
It’s possible that not everyone in your family will be feeling top notch this Christmas. With all the anticipation that the big day can bring, sometimes it can be hard to accept that others around you might be feeling a bit down, especially if you’re feeling festive and having a good time. Christmas can often make people feel nostalgic or reflective of the past year. Sadness for loved ones who aren’t with you might creep in, and that’s ok. I know that I’ll be thinking of my darling Nana, and I’m sure so will my Mum.
For those of you who’ve not yet done your shopping, why not try to set a budget for each person you’re buying for and if possible, let them know that you’ll be doing this and what your maximum amount is. You shouldn’t be made to feel like a scrooge. More often than not, family members would like to stick to a budget but won’t say anything because they’re too frightened of speaking up. Once you mention it, you might find others in your family are thinking the same thing! This year, I set a budget of £30-35 for each person, and somehow, I managed to stick to it. Surprisingly, not only has this meant that I’ve not felt completely strapped for money, but I also truly feel like I’ve been mindful about what gifts I’ve bought. I’ve tried to steer clear of things that I don’t think will be used and instead have tried to give an experience or something I know they’ll love. Keep track of your spending using an excel spreadsheet!
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never actually cooked on Christmas day; that’s been the task of my lovely Mum who serves up the most wonderful lunch. But it’s important to remember that it’s a family day. One for games, laughter and just being together. If you’re the one tasked with cooking, try to reduce the time slaving over the turkey by prepping beforehand, get volunteers in and accept that they might do it a little differently to you. Most importantly, keep lunch simple! Don’t forget to lend a hand if you’re not in the kitchen this year!
Ok, we might not all live in a chocolate box village or somewhere like Dibley, but Christmas really is the time to get out and about where you live. Find out what’s on, be it a Christmas Carol service, a Christmas concert, a special market or just perhaps to have a look at the festive lights. If you often feel a bit ‘cut off’, now’s the time to get out as people are a lot more jovial and likely to talk to strangers. Be mindful that not everyone’s Christmas is filled with laughter, so go easy on those you come across who perhaps don’t have a big festive smile on their faces. You might get talking to someone who will really appreciate the company.
For me, Christmas is about reconnecting with my family and getting back to basics. We spend so much time looking at screens be it at work or at home, that we hardly go through an hour without something backlit and computerised at our fingertips. Aside from saving time for the finale of Downton and keeping an eye on messages from Peter (we spend the 25th with our respective families), I’m going to try to switch off my Mac and iPod so that my time and attention is truly with my loved ones rather than the ether. That way, I reckon the day won’t flyby like it always does and instead, I might be able to truly enjoy it.
HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!!