I remember pouting around for an entire Christmas day after opening presents. I’m actually embarrassed to admit that it really wasn’t all that long ago. I was probably around fifteen years old (and clearly in desperate need of some Baptiste yoga). I’m one of four kids and I made up my mind that the distribution of gifts was outrageously unfair – a complete discrimination against the third child. How dare my parents. I didn’t receive enough. My older sisters and my little brother received way too much. So I spent my entire Christmas morning feeling sorry for myself. Poor little Jenn, the sibling that gets the shaft.
Looking back on this day, I can’t believe that I made such a fuss. I am by no means hard done by. I probably received way too much that morning. I’m also well aware that my view about the fairness of gifts was incredibly warped. We all got our fair share of goodies, and who needs to keep track anyways?
As kids, Christmas is all about what and how much we get. I used to judge the quality of a Christmas based on how many presents were underneath the tree when I raced down the stairs in the morning. As I’ve grown older, my attitude towards Christmas has changed. I still love it, but now Christmas is about spending time with people that I love, connecting with friends that I don’t get to see often and just appreciating the little things. Sure, there might be some presents under the tree, but that isn’t really the main focus for me.
For some people, Christmas is the toughest time of the year. It’s a painful reminder of how life changes. It shines a light on what they don’t have and of loved ones that are no longer here.
Whether you’re a Christmas fanatic or feel more like the Grinch when December rolls around, gratitude is an important practice at this time of year. Melody Beattie says:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
If you’re caught up in all the material things that you want under your tree (presents are nice, aren’t they?) just take a moment to think about what you already have.
If you love Christmas and get caught up in all the little details, pause and remind yourself that twenty years from now, you aren’t going to remember that the table was set perfectly, the presents were wrapped flawlessly and the house was spotless. You’re going to remember the family and friends that you shared the holidays with.
If this time of year, filled with tradition and family events, is a brutal reminder that things have changed, that someone you love is no longer here and life will never be the same again, let yourself miss them. Feel what you need to feel but don’t let it stop you from appreciating the people that are still with you.
When I find myself getting consumed by the craziness, chaos and the sadness that sometimes comes hand-in-hand with Christmas, I pause and take a moment to reflect on who I am lucky to have in my life right now.
Gratitude. That’s what this time of year is really about.