Christmas Day: It is forever full of surprises
Christmas Day is forever full of surprises.
When you’re little, it’s the right kind of surprises – “What has Santa brought?” “What presents will I get from family?” “How much fun are we going to have today?” or “How much junk food will I get away with eating?”
When you’re a bit older, it’s more the – “How many times is my uncle going to try to embarrass me?” kind of surprises, “How many sips of mum’s champagne will she let me have even though I’m 16?” or the “How many awkward interactions will I have with family I only see once a year?” Or worse, the surprise when you get a gift you hate, but you know the expectation is that you be grateful, say thank you and “wipe that look off your face, quick-smart”.
When you’re an adult, the surprises continue. Only they are far more of the “what on earth!!” variety, in my experience. Or the “I can’t believe he just said that!” kind. It can also be full of family fighting – bickering, alcohol-fuelled banter which soon turns into full-blown arguments. It CAN be a total train-wreck from start to finish.
But it can also turn out to be surprisingly nice. It can be a wonderful day for some families, or at least some years… right?
I know some Christmases in the past few years have been surprisingly pleasant for us. Calm, civilised, even pleasurable. I find now that we have little people involved in Christmas again in our family, it’s returned to what it should be – it’s about joy.
I watched back a video that I took from last Christmas of my then almost 2-year-old niece getting an Elsa tutu-dress from her other aunty. The sheer joy, excitement and thrill as she put that dress on, promptly asked for “moosic” and then proceeded to dance her way around the living room like a fully fledged royal princess; it all came flooding back to me. That moment made Christmas what it is – a moment full of delight & wonder. She was having SO much fun; there was so much joy exuding from that little 2-year-old body, and it really was contagious. There was laughter to the point of tears, for many of us “grown-ups”.
That is what Christmas is about for me. Family. Sitting together, sharing the joy of gift giving (and receiving) and being in the moment. Everyone in that room that day was truly present in a mindfulness sense. We were all focussed on this little joyful person, experiencing the excitement of Christmas and new toys. It was positively beautiful.
It wasn’t about my hypermobility.
It wasn’t about my health.
It wasn’t about doctors appointments.
It wasn’t about anything medical at all.
Sure, I carry with me my hypermobility, my variable health, and my other physical ailments – but they were not the focus of my attention, in fact, I wasn’t thinking about them at all. And yes, they impacted the way I physically interacted with my nieces, but I still had a role to play as the photographer & videographer, capturing that precious memory (and I definitely got lots of cuddles).
I wasn’t thinking about me.
I was in the moment.
I was being present.
I was in the here & now.
I was being mindful.
And that’s my goal for Christmas Day every year; to be mindful.
Life is made up of millions of individual moments. So much of life is “going through the motions”, but a day like Christmas Day encourages us to stop and take those moments in, to be there, present, experiencing and feeling the emotions of what is happening in and around us.
Whether you’re a bazillion gift kind of family or a more moderate gift-giving family; whether you’re spending Christmas with your partner, or with your whole family, or even alone. We can all practice mindfulness on Christmas Day.
Whether it’s being truly present in a conversation – not thinking about what you want to say in reply, but truly listening. Or trying not to get distracted by the food that is passing you by on a platter.
Whether it’s enjoying a hug, a kiss, or a cuddle with a little person you love (or a pet). Or watching closely as someone opens a gift you have given them, not worrying about their “reaction” but watching their approach and their response.
It could be mindfully eating some roast turkey, Christmas pudding, or enjoying a sip of a rare alcoholic beverage. Or mindfully watching a Christmas movie, or enjoying some Christmas music.
Whatever it is… just remember this Christmas Day, that life is about collecting moments, not things.
And – it’s just one day. 24 hours.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukka – no matter how you’re spending the day, I hope you can mindfully enjoy it.
A version of this post was originally published in 2017.