Christmas Eve was always my most favourite night of the year. The feeling of sweet anticipation and cherished time with my family. Delivering larger-than-life Christmas stockings with my Rotarian dad, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on high rotation in the pale green Holden station wagon.
Carols on the TV. Roast dinner with just the five of us before the craziness of Christmas day and extended family gatherings. Life felt like a bubble of safety and love.
But Christmas becomes more complex as we grow and family dynamics change. As I began to create my life consciously, choosing to shed the layers of who I thought I was supposed to be and living my life with purpose and intent, Christmas became an awkward time of year. Heavy with expectations and obligations, I questioned my role in something I was no longer sure about.
Relationships became strained, hearts ached. As a family, we had to work hard at times to understand each other, to keep coming together. It felt a long way from that bubble.
But life kept moving forward, journeys continued and directions were chosen. With time, some space and enormous courage, we kept finding a way through.
Real, honest, sometimes heart-breaking conversations became the basis of creating true freedom and deep connection within our family relationships. Our appreciation for each other feeding our acceptance of our differences.
I am so moved by the human spirit, by our family spirit. For our willingness to keep showing up, for our unique journeys, for how we’ve grown together, for our courage to lean in, and to allow space when it’s needed. Even if we don’t get it or don’t agree.
There are things we’ve learned from each other and some things we’ll never understand. But we keep doing our best to hear each other, and love the very best we can.
The silent struggle of Christmas often goes overlooked.
Loneliness, emptiness and disconnection can feel even darker at this time of year.
Christmas arrives early every year like a freight train that won’t be slowed down. It can be a wonderful and exciting time, it can also be a challenging time, covered up with smiles, presents and over-indulgence.
It can be a time for wanting, yearning, seeking. It can be a time for missing, feeling, needing. It can be a time we feel grateful for all that we have, or question why we have so much when others don’t. A time some wonder why all the fuss, while others can’t get enough.
Christmas can be a time of questioning, loneliness or anger, or a time of deep joy, love and connection.
It can be a time that exacerbates the challenges of the year, or brings people together in gratitude for being here.
What can make the most difference to our feeling of love and connection at this time of year is that we understand everyone has their own individual experience. Rather than judge someone for what they may say or how they may behave, offering compassion is the most powerful gift we can give.
However you experience Christmas, whatever you are feeling, I wish for you the courage to listen to your inner voice, connect with those who feel good for you, nourish yourself and be kind to you first.
Take some time to top up your inner cup, it will allow you to keep giving in the way you love to do.
If you need space, take it.
If you need a hug, ask for it.
If you need someone to listen, tell them.
What I’ve discovered on my journey is that there is nothing that compares to life, and Christmas, lived from the inside out.
Reflections for living from the inside out this festive season…
1. Listen to your inner voice (not the noise in your head, the voice in your heart).
2. Know what’s ok and not ok by you and honour that (establishing healthy boundaries requires self-responsibility and letting everyone else off the hook).
3. Nourish yourself with the right nutrition, exercise and self-talk between the indulgences and small disasters, it will help keep you feeling centred and connected.
4. Ask, with no attachment, for what you need and be open to receiving how others respond with love and care.
5. Take a few minutes for expressing your appreciation and gratitude for the little things and the little moments. These are what count the most.
Wishing you and your loved ones a heart full of peace, love and joy during this festive season.