I'm not like a kid at Christmas. I'm more like a whirling dervish! I tend to have a list as long as my arm from mid-November, that no matter how many ticks are next to each item, more things get added, like an eternal infinity loop of to-do's! Each year, I say it will be different, that everything will be ticked off, bought, written wrapped and posted by 1st Dec! And yet each year I find myself in the same scramble, on an all too familiar last minute dash combined with ensuing guilt, overwhelm and the feeling of slowly sinking under all the pressure and wrapping paper!
On reflection, Christmas for me is a difficult time of year, a perfect storm of old fears, anxieties, perfectionism and not feeling good enough, all rising to the surface amidst the twinkling lights.
So as I write this, and press publish on my first ever Christmas blog post, has it been any different this year?
Yes, yes it has! And for many reasons. I can thankfully say, as it sit here I am calm and collected. I have no guilt or the feeling I should be doing more. I do not have pangs of anxiety rising unexpectedly or a shadow of melancholy cast over me. Why? What has brought about such a Scrooge-like transformation?
Perspective. A shift in focus from what I lack to what I have, from loss to gain, from fear to love. And the stark realisation of one of my favourite sayings: 'The most important things in life aren't things.'
Have I wrapped all the presents yet? - no.
Is my to-do list complete? - no.
Is my house clean from top to bottom? - uh, no.
But, you know what, it's OK. It really is OK. In the grand scheme of this year, with all we have been through, with the huge levels of suffering and uncertainty we have faced, there are far more important things to concern myself with this Christmas than a pristine house, perfectly wrapped presents that co-ordinate with my tree and making sure I cook 47 different varieties of vegetables a lá Jamie Oliver for Christmas dinner. Instead, I am asking myself more important questions:
Do my children know they are loved, safe and cared for? - Yes.
Do we have a roof over our heads? - Yes.
Can we put food on the table? - Yes.
Are my family and friends well? - Yes.
My heart breaks for those who cannot answer yes to these questions. For those who do not know love or safety, comfort or shelter, a full stomach or full health. And so, I bring words of encouragement from my friend Alex, who runs a small beauty business, Belle Beautique. She has known uncertainty, closures, loss of income and worries of the future this year. Her Instagram post inspired me so much. Even in the midst of such upheaval she wrote:
'Sending love to those who are: Grieving a loss this Christmas, mentally and physically drained, are homesick for family and friends, trying to hold it all together, worried about what the future holds, struggling to make magic for their kids.' @belle_beautique_x
You may be physically alone this Christmas, but please know, there are many of us who think of you, pray for you and send you our love. Love is amazing, because it never fails and knows no boundaries or restrictions it can reach into the darkest of conditions and bring light and hope.
And in the words of another friend, Sian: 'When everything else is stripped back, we're left with the people around us and the realisation that it's the people who matter." @sianlisaart
Whether alone or together, people are the most important things in life. Consider this and look for ways you can reach out and show love this Christmas. It may be a phone call, a letter or card to someone you know is alone. It may be checking on a neighbour - staying safe, waving through a window, saying hello from your garden or a distanced chat from the doorstep. Let others know you care and are thinking of them, it just might make their Christmas.
The illustration for this post is a print by the brilliant and talented Luiza Holub. You can find her at www.instagram.com/luizaholub/ or on www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LuizaHolub This card has been her best seller this year - and for me it epitomises what we all long to do. It is a poignant and beautiful reminder of what I would most love to give this Christmas and the hope I have for better times ahead. I chose it for this post as a virtual hug to you all at this time of year, from me to you, a warm Welsh cwtch (hug).
I wish you all the very best for this festive season. Thank you so much for joining me here, to read, comment and support me - it means a great deal. I love to write and share my thoughts with you, and am privileged to know that my words go out into the world and bring cheer and encouragement. If there is someone you know who needs to read this, please pass it onto them and share my thoughts and love with them. Sending you love and wishes, take care and stay safe.