Yesterday was Sunday, yet Amazon’s delivery company was working overtime and a parcel arrived. It contained gifts from friends halfway round the world. I took the packages out and put them beside the others by our tree, and then I went back to working on a post I was writing for our 1000VoicesSpeak blog.
My husband brought a cup of tea, and I turned round to see this:
I posted the photo on my Facebook wall along with this comment: Running around feeling stressed about Christmas? STOP! Take lessons from our cat. All she needs to feel happy is the box a parcel just arrived in.
Even though Christmas is supposed to be a happy time, for many people it’s also one of the most stressful times of year. People stretch themselves beyond what they normally do, which is good – so long as it’s a stretch and not a push to breaking point.
We think we have to find the perfect presents, to cook the perfect meal, to be happy and caring and remember the people less fortunate than ourselves. We have to complete everything we’ve got hanging around – finish painting the living room, writing that novel, mending the fence – or creating the perfect blog post!
If we don’t catch an attack of finishitis (or should that be finishititis?) then someone else gives it to us – my daughters’ school breaks for the holidays tomorrow and one of them had a test today. The other has to hand in three essays tomorrow.
I used to try to make sure the house was spotless for Christmas Day, with all the washing and ironing done. (I think I learned this habit from my mum.) There have been Christmases that I spent all morning cooking while everyone else opened presents or watched a movie on TV. There have been Christmas Eves that I was up till past midnight wrapping presents.
Honestly, I look back now and wonder – why? If there’s dirty laundry in the basket on Christmas Day, so what? If we have enough for ourselves to eat instead of enough to eat till we feel sick and leftovers for a week, so what? If we buy each other gifts that we know each other wants (because we write a list) and there’s nothing expensive or fancy on it, so what?
It’s a cliché to say that what matters is enjoying our time together, spreading kindness, sharing love. It’s a cliché and yet it’s still true.
It’s also a cliché to say that when people are fleeing wars or living and dying on the streets, whether we have a red tablecloth or a purple one really doesn’t matter. And last year’s tree decorations will do just fine. (So will those from ten years ago.)
And yet, and yet… thinking about someone else’s misfortune won’t necessarily stop us wanting our lives to be better. It might even leave us feeling worse. Some of us on Christmas day will want everything to be perfect. So what? It doesn’t make us bad, it just makes us human.
So if you notice yourself feeling anxious because the turkey (or in our case the nut roast) isn’t ready and the guests have arrived – have compassion for yourself. If you notice your spouse, parent, daughter, son, sibling or friend feeling anxious because the turkey (or nut roast) isn’t ready and you are the guests who has arrived – as best you can, have compassion for them. If you notice them frowning instead of smiling as they open the gift you gave them, remember that they have a story running through their head and in that story Christmas should be perfect. The gift you gave them looks more expensive than the one they bought for you, or they got one already and are trying to pretend that they didn’t. Or maybe they are darned annoyed because they don’t like what you gave them. Whatever the reason for their frown, it’s nothing to do with you and everything to do with that story running through their mind.
My cat has no story about boxes not being expensive or pretty enough. She just likes sitting in them, so when one arrives, she hops in.
If you feel overwhelmed by the stories running through your mind about how the Holidays should go, give yourself a break and let go. I know of no better way to do this than with The Sedona Method, a simple welcoming and releasing process I have used for several years. If you’d like help to let go of fears and expectations about the Holidays, Hale Dwoskin of Sedona Training Associates has put together several audio tracks for anyone to listen to. You can access them here.
Disclaimer: along with the audio tracks the web page contains information about a retreat Hale is doing over New Year. I am not an affiliate, but having been on one, I do recommend his retreats.
Or you could just try sitting in a box.
This post is for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion’s December link-up, which this month focuses on simply on COMPASSION. To read more posts, or to add your own, click on the blue button below.
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion is a blogging initiative started in response to violence and alienation in our world. If you would to be part of a movement for loving change, join our Facebook Group, like our Facebook Page, or look for our posts on Twitter with the hashtag #1000Speak.
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