Seeing it From a Child’s Eyes
Breathe, just breathe.
I love this line from the movie “Ever After” where the heroine calms her nerves before embarking on a monumental moment. I love the visual of the scene, with the sparkles on her face and the delicate fairy wings. It’s magical. It’s stunning and it’s such a powerful image to remind me to be calm and return to my breath especially during the holiday season.
I love the holiday season. I love the music. I love that everything sparkles and shimmers in all the festive decorations and displays. I love the stillness outside on a dark, snow-covered night, with the cold on my cheeks and the warm glow of the Christmas lights. This to me is peace. This to me symbolizes the essence of it.
It also strikes me that this peace is the minority of how I feel during Christmastime. If I look back on my adult life of celebrating, somehow the sparkle seems to have dulled. This warrants exploring.
What steals my holiday sparkle?
Shopping in crowded markets: As an empath, I feel the energy of the people around me. It’s worse at this time of year because I pick up on the frenzy and stress of other shoppers at the mercy of finding the perfect gift. It’s a crowd full of energy vampires—and it’s exhausting to me. I like people but I also like my sanity and I have learned to protect my energy. Thank goodness for online shopping.
The dreaded ‘Shoulds’: I should send cards, I should buy gifts for all co-workers even though I have known them for as long as a coffee break, I should have a perfectly decorated house that could be featured in a magazine. Living up to this image perpetuated by the media is exhausting and steals my joy. Sitting here in my pj’s, sipping my coffee I can see the absurdity of it. It reminds me of the line from Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch who stole Christmas.
He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming! It came! Somehow or other, it came just the same! And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling. How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!
The rushed pace: Needing to squeeze in visits, parties, shopping, perfect pictures….all before Santa lands on Christmas eve. I want to slow it down. Savour the moment instead of feeling I am powering through this event in order to survive and get to the next one. I hate the energy of this.
My sanity-saving, Christmas spirit reviving remedies:
I realize my mental health is just as important as my physical health at Christmas and plan to keep this list close by to actually savour and enjoy the entire season. Game on! Let’s do this! Things I want to do more of this year:
Baking: I love to bake at Christmas. One of my favourite things is a day in the kitchen blasting Christmas CDs and singing at the top of my lungs. It brings me close to the childlike state of carefree joy that I remember as a little girl. This also doubles to satisfy some of the gift-giving. So it’s a win-win for me.
Seeing it from a child’s eyes: The exuberance of my kids at Christmas is contagious. I love how they are giddy leading up to Christmas. I love how they are excited to spend time with their aunts and uncles and grandparents. I love the anticipation every morning as they rush down to see where the Elf on the shelf ended up. I love that the chocolate from their Advent calendar is the first thing they eat every day in December. I love their excitement over a fresh new snowfall, filled with the possibility of art in the form of angels, forts, or snow toilets. Whatever the imagination will conjure up. I love that they connect the importance of thinking of others and giving. Whether it be wanting to share their toys or food with the less fortunate or help someone by holding the door, they get it. Connection and awe.
Christmas movies: Often times in the rush of the Christmas season I get to December 24th and realize I didn’t have the time to watch my favourites. I am normally not one for that much tv but the Christmas movies fill my soul with song, with hope, and with love. My favourite is “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I have seen it so many times I swear I feel like George Bailey could be my brother. I anguish with him as he stumbles and celebrate with unabashed ugly crying when he finally gets the lesson that life is about connections, friends, loved ones. “George, Remember no man is a failure who has friends.” So in this light, I am making more time for movies. And earlier in the month!
Reconnecting: Related to the movie discussion above, I also want to reconnect with friends and family. Life is busy and I need fuel to keep up. I want to reconnect with people who feed my soul. You know those people that when you leave an interaction, no matter how short a visit, that you both walk away lighter and brighter. Energized. Ahhhh.
Breathing/Meditating: I use these techniques daily to keep me grounded. In past years though, something about the Christmas rush has left these collecting dust while I wonder why I am so frazzled. It’s only taken me a few decades to figure out that this is as non-negotiable as brushing my teeth. So back to making this a priority I will keep the visual of Drew Barrymore, sparkle faced and winged and repeat as needed “Breathe, just Breathe”.
Maybe the caffeine has just kicked in or perhaps I am divinely inspired (likely a combination of the two), but it’s just hit me that the secret ingredient to enjoying and savouring the joys of the season will come from me being present in the moment. Right here, right now. I feel lighter and brighter just reflecting on this. I dare say energized.
So right here, right now, I wish you all the best the season has to offer. Whatever your traditions and beliefs, my hope is that you may be present in each moment and that you may find your joy and your peace in each and every moment.