In all it’s sparkly warmth and loving light, most of us are happy to admit that it can also be a draining—if not destabilizing—time of year.
During this time, it is expected that we do certain things with our precious time, money, resources. Often, these activities are so deeply engrained into us that we can lose sight of what truly brings us joy.
Spending time with family and friends, sharing food and drink? Most of us would wholeheartedly agree that this is the most important part of the holidays—of course it is!
But when ‘giving’ gets confused with shopping, when we feel pressured rather than joyful, when we go to the office Christmas party because we feel obligated, even though we may not feel particularly connected with most of our coworkers—well, are these the things we really want to be spending our precious time and money on?
Not doing Christmas is a personal choice and one that happens to fit with my lifestyle. I’m still celebrating, but I’m choosing to not worry about the expectations. I am lucky in that my family and friends totally support this decision.
Rumour has it that my mother is actually relaxed this year since my folks have also joined me in this!
The choice to skip Christmas is about symbolically (and practically) setting a more authentic and balanced precedent for upcoming months and years.
1. More writing (creative stuff)
My gift this year is to be honest with myself, and a big part of that is to devote my time and energy towards things that feed my soul. When my soul is fed I have more energy to give.
So essentially this is my way of being more giving all through the year.
2. Less show and less stuff
Lights are pretty. I have some. I like looking at them. I like that other people put them up. But I’m not going to worry about missing lightbulbs and making space for my teeny tree, or picking up any trinket decorations.
I love sparkly things (all year!), but I’m not so interested in the ‘show.’ I’m more about what’s inside. I’m not interested in cheap décor: I want authenticity.
I love giving gifts and receiving them—don’t we all?
But I definitely have been sucked into the buying frenzy most years.
Despite the fact that I try to stay ‘cheap,’ I still spend money on things that aren’t necessary. Occasionally the gifts aren’t even as thoughtful as I would like them to be.
Because we feel the pressure to buy in quantity, we also may feel the pressure to buy cheap, poor quality slave-labour made goods. I just don’t want to support this, nor do I want to encourage debt.
If you think about it, it is normal for us to be (more) debt-ridden come the post-Christmas months.
I’m sorry, but isn’t this kind of fucked up?
It’s true that we all have varying amounts of financial wiggle room, but the idea that this time of year can turn even us mindful folks into consumers of crap just doesn’t sit well with me.
I get that it’s a whole different ball game when kids are involved! But there is nothing wrong with trying to teach more mindful giving to them too.
4. Friends are family
I seem to have amassed a pretty stellar stockpile of lovely beings to spend time with, and instead of going away from them to see my parents (whom I also love very dearly) I feel I have a little bit more time and energy to spend with my ‘other’ family.
The idea is to choose the people and situations that lift us up whenever we can. It’s perfectly okay if this is not always family.
I want to encourage us all to remember the people that we resonate with and to choose quality connecting all year round.
There are many spiritual reasons to celebrate this time of year. But it’s interesting to note that in 1939 the US government moved Thanksgiving ahead one week in order to encourage more Christmas shopping time. Yes, the concept of the Christmas holiday was invented by our industrial economy forefathers for the purpose of being consumers.
This was Roosevelt responding to the pressure of retailers during the depression, so fair enough, it made sense at the time.
But just knowing this is cause to stop and reconsider how deeply the government and economic climate can dictate our actions.
As far as the rest of the holiday goodness is concerned—and as much as I’m grateful to have time off—I don’t like the concept that I’m being told when or how or where to give, share, relax and play.
I think that we should do it our own way, when and how it suits us, all year round!
6. Generally rebelling against cultural norms
This time of year is often about expectations, but there is absolutely no need for this!
If we are more mindful with our giving, our time, our money, our personal energy, this paves the way to more authentic enjoyment of the rest of the season and year.
Because life is too short for anything less.
A very merry and mindful (un) Christmas and upcoming year to all of our elephant friends and family!
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Editor: Bryonie Wise