Living Slow

Looking for a deeper meaning of Christmas

I have never been a big Christmas fan. Any meaning for me got lost in the in the piles of holiday themed everything and the feeling of seasonal “not good enough” as I worry if I have the right gifts for the right people.

I am also not interested in perpetuating the whole “better be good because Santa is watching” thing and encouraging my son to make voluminous wish lists to whisper into the ear of a stranger at the mall.

You could call me a grinch but I know that stuff can never bring happiness and I don’t want to unintentionally teach my son to seek happiness in the wrong places. I know that all the good stuff- joy, happiness, and love come from within. Without access to that inner source, I will never be satisfied with anything material.

I am looking for a deeper meaning for my Christmas celebration. I don’t believe that Christmas is just about kids opening presents. I also want to model for my son how to celebrate the true joys of life.

I did some thinking on the whole Santa thing. There is a lovely deeper meaning to be found in the story. It shows us that our deepest wishes can come true. That there is a generous loving and joyful energy in the universe that is providing for us. It’s the “ask and you shall receive” lesson. It illustrates that if you desire something with a pure heart. believe that it is possible, and stay in alignment with good, it will show up in an unexpected way.

What does anyone truly desire? love, happiness, peace, joy, ease, enough to eat, a roof over your head, people to love and be loved by, someone who takes a real interest in you, maybe a fulfilling way to contribute to society, profitable work, the ability to express oneself creatively, freedom to be who you are and be loved and accepted as is.

The true gifts in life cannot be wrapped and placed under the tree.

Recently, a teacher I follow Dr. Joe Dispenza, said that giving gifts is about having the feeling of an open heart. We give because we like that feeling. This is where I had missed the mark. I felt expectation, obligation, worry that the person wouldn’t like the gift, and worry that it would be too much or too little. It was all about meeting expectation and even reciprocity. If I give with an open heart, it is not about reciprocity. And if someone else gives me a gift with an open heart, then there should be no expectation of equal retail value return. I can let myself off the hook. I practiced giving with an open heart today and instead of worrying about dollar value or meeting expectations, I gave something from my heart. I can let the outcome go.

I also want to create a special Christmas activity that we can do together instead of it only being about opening presents.

My family used to go out into the forest and decorate a tree for the birds with ornaments we had made out of bird seed and other bird friendly foods. Then we would clear off a small pond to skate and roast marshmallows or hot dogs. It was a really special occasion.

This is my brainstorming list of ideas for a special family celebration on christmas that takes the emphasis off gifts:

  1. Make a special treat together like baking pies, or cookies and deliver the goods to friends.

  2. Set up a tent in the living room and have a pj party/ camp out

  3. Have a special day outdoors with sledding and hot chocolate

  4. Let the day be run by the kids: cake for breakfast, PJs all day

  5. Do a collaborative art project- a large canvas painting, clay sculptures, finger or feet painting

  6. Make your yearly family photo album- everyone gets to pick their favorites and design a page

  7. Allow each family member to plan a special surprise activity for everyone

  8. Start a new journal on Christmas and talk about your hopes and dreams for the new year.

  9. Reflect on what was good/bad about this year- capture it in a collage or drawing

  10. Have “Special Time”(see Note below) with each family member.

My final idea for bringing more meaning into the celebration of Christmas is that I want to incorporate some of the yule tradition and honour the light and life that is ever-present even in the darkness of winter. What is the light in our lives? What are the joys? What are our gifts and how can we acknowledge and celebrate those? What are the good things that have come to us this year? And what are the good things that we have done, what obstacles have we overcome? what qualities have we developed?. I also want to honour the unique light that is in each member of my family. I decided to wrap up a journal for my husband and write within the pages some things that I appreciate about him.

Note: Patti Wifler’s “special time” guidelines are designed for parents and children but I see no reason why the approach cannot be adapted for adults. Special Time is one on one time with a parent and child. The guidelines are: allow the child to choose an activity, get right into the child’s world, give the child your undivided attention, have no agenda, let the child lead, no multitasking, no teaching or coaching. Patti’s rules are that Special TIme is not about big activities but focused one-on-one attention and play. The child gets your 100% undivided attention for a set amount of time. It shouldn’t involve travel or cost money.