At the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Zuzu Bailey says, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings!”
These days, every time a Christmas song is played, some grownups grit their teeth.
Though this is a season of celebration, for many, it comes with sadness and stress. We can easily get caught up in consumerism, cynicism, stress and gloom.
What can we do to cope with Christmas and begin a New Year healthy and hopeful?
We have to psyche ourselves up. The attitudes we adopt now will influence our mental and physical wellbeing over the holidays.
This year, I resolved to begin my Christmas preparations early. On November 25th, I had put up the lights and the tree and already started the search for the right gifts for the kids. To get in the mood, I started playing Christmas music a week earlier.
In past years, I would procrastinate while I continued to work and attend to everything else in our busy home. With each passing year, Christmas seemed to come and go faster.
By starting early this time, I’ve enjoyed the sights and sounds of the season and taken the time to consider the needs of family and friends. Without the rush, I’ve been more mindful.
Of course, the acceleration of time we experience at Christmas happens throughout the rest of the year – and becomes more pronounced over a lifetime. The seasons and years pass ever more quickly; we are another year older, our life situations and relationships change, and people pass in and out of our lives. The days of our lives are fleeting.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to be fully present.
Each year, I remind my children to be mindful. With each gift they choose for one another, I ask them to consider first the needs and happiness of the other person, and with each gift they open, appreciate the care that went into it.
No one wraps a present as lovingly as my sister. Unwrapping gifts from Auntie Lisa has become one of our favourite family rituals.
Of course, we don’t get everything we want for Christmas.
Many families cannot afford the luxuries advertised in flyers and commercials. Many people will be alone or missing loved ones. The holidays may come just when some are coping with bad news or health concerns.
Since my mom’s passing, there are moments each Christmas season when I don’t feel much like celebrating and instead miss her presence in our lives. Remembering Christmases past can stir up a bittersweet mix of feelings.
At Christmastime, as with any other point in our lives, we experience a fleeting mix of what we have, what we once had and what we want. We each have to accept our circumstances, acknowledge the gifts of the past and most importantly for the moment, be present and appreciate what we have today.
Let us resolve to be as present as possible, loving the good that we have and connecting with those in our lives this day. May we be more mindful of all that we do and say, eat and drink this season. Our experiences today will be tomorrow’s memories.