The catch phrase this time of the year is “I’m so busy!” It seems the last thing we have time for is arranging Christmas and then it dawns on us, oh gosh, the holidays. A double whammy that seems to leave most of us in a tail spin. While every second magazine or article you read over the coming weeks will try to give you a new way to ease this pressure, the reality remains – the more people talk, write, promote, and decorate for Christmas, the more we believe it’s a day that is judged with either a pass or fail.

When stripped bare, why do do this to ourselves?

I became a tad cynical about such rituals as I didn’t really see the sense in all the preparation, the pressure, expense, decorations, food, family coordination, presents and so on. It felt like I saw Christmas through the eyes of the Grinch … why bother?

Not ever coming close to canceling Christmas, I began a solo silent journey of what life felt like without these ritualistic events. It was made easier by also being single at the time.

During my silent journey, one year my children were with their father from Christmas morning through until mid afternoon. I felt strangely bereft without the hub of excitement at 5:30am as they usually bounced onto the bed full of anticipation. The day seemed just like any other only with no traffic hassles.

By the time my three children arrived back with me mid-afternoon, they were empty handed awaiting the next fix of present opening. They’d eaten the better part of a farm yard, topped off by bowls full of desserts. It was hard to tell if they had sugar flowing through their blood or blood flowing through their sugar.

Amongst the buzz and delights, Christmas unfolded. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feel were all tantalizing for my senses. The family together, carols playing, roast dinner cooking, I couldn’t help but reflect upon another year celebrated. Instantly questioning the significance of celebration if it is not shared. Sure, I could celebrate alone but is not the essence of celebration in its sharing? The social? The public? The engaging? While I alone could acknowledge and feel pleased with a year well done, the celebration is in the giving and receiving. It’s the exchange and that’s quite hard to do well while flying solo.

The thanks and appreciation of family coming together, where each has given up a moment in their busy life to add to another’s day. In the same way, I’d given a little time to add to their day in some small way. It showed me that the annual practice of putting aside the years hassles and any differences I may have felt, to focus on the positive bond of friendships and family is priceless.

It is these rituals that enriches our lives. It is the recognition of specialness for no other reason than itself that can turn an otherwise black ‘n white photograph of the world into splendid colour.

As December is upon us and we feel the pressure of our To Do list, pause and remember the real reason we do these rituals. It is to enrich our lives and those we share it with. When I remember the reason, the stress disappears and the enjoyment of the season takes over.

My recipe for Christmas happiness:

✴ I do more of what I enjoy to create the specialness
✴ I don’t focus on having to do things if I really don’t enjoy them
✴ I avoid the pressure of feeling I have to live up to expectations
✴ I make a ritual of what has to be done every year so others want to participate
✴ I play carols till they plead for silence
✴ I do all I can with what I have and never stay up late preparing
✴ I laugh more than frown
✴ I have chocolate on hand
✴ I don’t mind if something is broken, forgotten or lost
✴ I celebrate – I share … including my precious children with my Ex husband.


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Jill Darcey (author, parent, founder, and speaker) is a mother of three with thousands of hours of experience as a counsellor and coach, and more than a decade of real-time experience with "complex family" parenting --- parenting through separation, divorce or some other family breakdown. Jill is someone who has both vision and wisdom and has learned a lot of what does and doesn't work — and some of it the hard way!

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Robin Isteak

I’d given a little time to add to their day in some small way.thanks

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