It’s that time of the year. The lead up to Christmas, that is. Let’s see –
- There’s the job. Pressure to perform. Be on time. Stay back late. Do more for less. And smile while you’re at it.
- There’s the bills. Lots of window envelopes. Seems to always be more in December.
- There’s the Christmas shopping. Hordes of people pushing and shoving. Shouting. Screaming kids. Tantrums – ‘cos they see, they want.
- There’s the traffic. Short tempered drivers. Road rage. No parks in the shopping centre. Everybody else had the same idea to shop early it seems.
- Then there’s all the usual everyday stuff –like putting food on the table to feed the hungry hordes. Oh, and don’t forget the end of school year celebrations. They seem to be getting more elaborate. And more expensive.
I’m sure you get the drift. It can be the stuff that nightmares are made of. Balancing the pressures of life can be very difficult. When the demands of modern consumerism add to the burden, it can become overwhelming.
Somewhere in there, our society seems to have lost the way.
What happened to the Season of Goodwill, Joy, Love, Peace ? Let’s get it back!!
Don’t get me wrong. I love the whole Christmas thing. The one that isn’t drowned in consumerism. I made a choice many years ago not to get caught up in all that stuff. I ease the financial burden by starting the gift shopping at the sales after Christmas. It’s our family tradition to give gifts to everyone. It’s our way of honouring our family and friends.
I play Secret Santa in our street too. The neighbours get an anonymous Christmas card and a small gift in their letter box every year. I don’t think it’s much of a secret anymore, but that doesn’t matter.
Another tradition we keep each year is to gift someone in need. We have done this in many different ways over the years. One of the most memorable was when we each had a “Shoebox of Love” to fill. These gifts were sent overseas through a charity organisation. We each chose a child by sex and age. And filled their shoebox with items we had to personally select and buy. It was a month of thoughtful consideration of someone else and their needs.
I am also an advocate of thoughtful gifting. It doesn’t have to cost much. In fact, sometimes, it can be cost-free. That makes it even more precious.
For many years we had a tradition with some Aussie friends of having a Christmas in July. It came about because we had never experienced an Aussie Christmas. So July became it. And it stuck. We set a limit of $2 per gift. Inflation eventually forced us to reconsider that and raise it to $3. One year we set a challenge to see who could buy the most things and stay within budget. I won! In fact, I came under budget by 25 cents, including gift wrap. It was fun and wholesome.
I love Christmas. I love Advent, beginning on the 1st December. Our home is cleaned. Decorated. The lead up to Christmas is a happy time. The preparation. The decorations. The cooking and baking. Delicious smells wafting through the house. The live Christmas tree filling the house with pine scent. And of course the big night itself – Christmas Eve – when we all get together with our extended family to celebrate.
If you celebrate Christmas in your family, I invite you to strip the stress away! It’s worth the effort. And what’s more, it’s not even that hard.
© Raili Tanska