It’s that time of year…

Yes, it is. The word instils fear in many, hope in some, and points to a period – in Australia at least – which is hot, chaotic, humid mostly and fraught with difficulty.

The other night, my partner and I were privvy to the goings on of a domestic dispute next door (thanks to the way in which our apartments are positioned), there’d been alcohol involved and perspectives in an argument that were aired for not just the block, but I think our entire suburb to hear. Sadly, they had been having a Christmas dinner with family a few hours before, so one could only imagine the tension experienced. It was difficult not to overhear what was going on. My heart went out to them and it moved me deeply, as I felt the emotion as if I was standing in that room. And it brought me to my own experiences in the past and the emotion that bubbled up as a result.

At this time of year, we are all hot, tired and looking to wind down. The pressure that we place on ourselves and at times, our loved ones, the way our ego, and its constant inane mind chatter will be repeating like rote, that we are not good enough, that our presents are not fine enough, that our houses aren’t presentable enough, that our fridge is not full enough – essentially that we are not enough, just as we are.

We are bombarded with messages from glossy advertising brochures, advertising and the media all year, but none more than at Christmas, where there’s an implied expectation that you’ll have the perfect home, the perfect meal, and no less than 3-4 expensive cuts of meat, poultry and trimmings to drown your family with ‘abundant giving’. In other words, if you attempt anything less, you are ‘not enough’, reinforcing the constant negative mind chatter that our ego is already very good at. Yes, the marketing machines really know how to push our buttons, don’t they?

This Christmas, my partner and I will be having a Christmas that is designed our way. We don’t have brochures delivered, we don’t watch TV other than what is essential (not more than a couple of hours a week on average – some weeks none at all), we don’t read newspapers and thus, are not subjective to the subliminal messaging pulling at the very framework of who we are. We know what Christmas is, and we know how we can realistically celebrate it. We will be honouring each other, and our respective children in a way that is constant, and reinforcing the message ‘you are enough’. There’s no room for a negative mindset. Life deals some tricky situations as it is, without giving into the ego’s perspective, which most of us would recognise is highly flawed!

It is easy to be caught in the guilt cycle, spending money we don’t have for what is essentially not more than 1-2 meals out of a year of just over 1000 meals. Most of us are fortunate, we’re in a position where we can make a difference at Christmas. There are many, many more who are forgotten, and alone at this time of year, with very little to survive on, let alone be caught in a guilt cycle of giving.

Being focused and conscious means being in the moment, and enjoying what is. I have put up my tree and really enjoy the ambience it brings at this time of year. I choose to honour the positive aspects of Christmas: being together with my partner and children is one of those pleasures, but also with extended family – which for many can be even more challenging. It is the one time of year where there are expectations that people who don’t often spend any time together, must all get together and ‘get along’. Often in a confined space, eating food we don’t usually eat, sitting in an arrangement that we don’t usually find ourselves in, drinking. And many continue drinking to drown that endless mind chatter of feeling that they are not ‘good enough’… and the cycle continues.

At this time, when spending is at an all time high throughout the year, when the road toll increases and where relationships that are not solid tend to fracture at the seems I would encourage you to remain in heart. Lowering expectations on your self and those around you, and focusing on the real meaning of the word (whatever that meaning is) for you, or alternatively redefining it, either alone or with your partner, in order for it to reflect your truth and where you are at in life. Using this as a starting point, to ground your experience and reduce tension and anxiety that have often arisen out of some unrealistic expectations to begin with, is a great way to share Christmas with your loved ones, in a way that is both conscious and happy.