At the start of December, we are preparing for Christmas at home and we have put up decorations much earlier than usual, Christmas presents are mainly bought and carols and Christmas music fills our home. My teenage daughter has come to stay for December and so we are now four (plus dog) which has added to the sense of family. Looking outside the first snow has fallen and my girls are so excited about this holiday period, their energy fills the air. Advent countdown is a source of joy for them and they are busy planning what they want to bake for the next weeks.
Even my printer has been taken over by Christmas gnomes.
And it’s TOO EARLY!
Or is it?
Ending 2020 on a High
I read an article recently that around the world, those who celebrate Christmas are decorating on average a couple of weeks earlier than normal. The suggestion was that after such a difficult year of Covid-19 restrictions, people generally want to finish the year on a high note. An extended celebration represents a way to compensate for th eloved ones and the qualities of life that have been lost this year across the globe.
In our family we have, like most, had a challenging time with severe restrictions in many areas of our lives: summer holiday plans cancelled, work dried up, financial contraction and stress, unable to visit loved ones and our daughter home for most of the time as her school was forced to an online education model. Despite this, I can say we are coping extremely well and I believe this period has, in fact, brought us closer together and stronger as a family than ever before.
And yes, we are also celebrating Christmas weeks earlier than we do usually. Normally I would rebel against this but I’m also in need of a rest from the tension and the need to celebrate what we have.
Christmas and the year end seems like a perfect time to do this.
So I’m going with the flow and letting go of what I’m telling myself we ‘should’ be doing this time of year. There has been no ‘normal’ this year so why should the final month be any different?
Another article I came across was about the letters Santa has been receiving from kids and comparing them to previous years. Many of them mention the pandemic and ask for fewer presents than usual because they know times are tough. And in many of these letters, kids are sharing their own worries and concerns about this year.
I found this deeply touching.
I realised that, no matter how we seem to be coping with it all on the surface, there is a hidden layer of stress and fear that we often don’t acknowledge or give space to.
This is even more true for our children. They perhaps don’t always understand the enormity of the seismic shift in the world this year – but they are sensitive enough to know something is changing in a major way. They feel what is unseen and they pick up on the things we try to hide or minimise. They know they have less access to their peers and other people they care about. They tune into the more subtle currents of what is going on without having words to verbalise it.
Within all this turmoil they need something to hold onto – as do we adults. Christmas is one thing that is familiar and a source of happiness. For most of us it has shed its religious meaning and instead become a time of and for the children. A celebration of childhood.
This all got me thinking about the wider importance of rituals and traditions. The celebration of annual events (Birthdays, Christmas etc), of turning points in life (Birth, Marriage, Death) and the small day to day routines and rituals (my own include daily mediation, dance and working out as well as a myriad others). These all take on a new place in my life as familiar, self-created moments I can hold onto during these huge changes that impact all other areas of our life.
They are important to me … and maybe even more important for the young ones among us.
In this context it is no surprise then that I notice a deeper attachment for this holiday time. It is something I choose to encourage and enrich. This year I decided not to don the mantle of Scrooge that I often wear at this time but to fully enjoy celebrating ourselves.
If not for myself, for my children.