It’s so easy at this time of year to get caught up in the whirl of feast planning, crazy shopping, gift wrapping, tree decorating, christmas parties and catch-ups, and not be truly present to ourselves and our loved ones.
I’ve often found myself searching high and low for the ‘perfect thoughtful present’ for a loved one or the box of bon-bons that matches the table setting, getting frazzled and stressed, having left it all to the last minute.
This year, I’m far from home in the lead up to Christmas so things are a little different. Even though I’m surrounded by snow and fairy lights, it doesn’t feel like it’s just a few days from Christmas. I don’t have a long list of gifts to buy or a feast to plan, or a calendar full of dinners, drinks and parties.
On the one hand, it feels strangely quiet. On the other, it gives me a wonderful opportunity to connect with those I am with in a way that hasn’t happened in past years, when I’ve been moving quickly, ticking off to do lists and filling up every space on my calendar. Slow time. Present time. I have a chance to reflect on what this time of year is really about. Connecting and sharing with our loved ones, near and far. Giving the gift of our ‘perfect thoughtful presence’, in whatever form that takes.
In the past I’ve found this time of year a particularly challenging one for maintaining my practice and staying centred in amongst all the activity. I’m sure many can relate to that. This year, the challenge is in ‘being there’ for my friends and family in Australia when I’m on the other side of the world. As always, I will turn to my spiritual practice and that quiet inner guide that always has the answer, when I can be quiet and still long enough to hear it.
As Christmas moves ever closer, I’m bringing forward the reflective process I normally save for the ‘post-Christmas pause’. I find myself being able to reflect more deeply on what this time of year is really all about for me – love and gratitude. Plain and simple. Gifts, feasts, parties and decorations are all wonderful parts of the celebration but ultimately it’s about spending time with and sharing with the people we love, acknowledging the gifts in our lives, and hopefully finding ways to bring a little light and love to the lives of those that have not had our good fortune.
So here are some questions I’m posing to myself to connect with the essence of Christmas and to reflect on what I’d like to bring to the fresh new year that’s fast coming our way (oh I do love a new year!):
- What am I most grateful for and in what new ways can I ‘pay it forward’?
- In what ways can I give that have meaning to others (and to myself)?
- What practical steps can I take to be present for my loved ones this Christmas?
- How can I maintain this presence as we move into the new year?
- What is no longer working for me that I’m ready to let go of?
- What do I want to bring more of into 2017?
I love the promise of a new year, the fresh start, the chance to reflect. And this year, I’m grateful to be able to start that process a little early..
With love and gratitude