Joy is not in things; it is in us ~ Richard Wagner
With only three sleeps until Christmas many of us are wondering how to wind down, how to enjoy time with our family and friends, and how to continue or create meaningful traditions for this time of year. Perhaps we are trying to avoid a hurricane of over-receiving and over-indulging, trying instead to connect with Christmastime as about giving, faith and connectedness to others and ourselves.
One of my big challenges this year is winding down. In many ways I would like to switch off my work and research selves so that I can be present with family, friends, nature and the present moment. But the hybridity of my roles (teacher, school leader, researcher, connected learner, parent) makes it hard to power down. My leadership work in my school is closely related to my PhD research on teacher growth and school change, so I am constantly immersed in reading, acting and thinking about these things. Being a participant in education Twitter chats this year (like #satchat #sunchat #aussieED, #BFC530 and #whatisschool) has also kept my brain buzzing with ideas sparked by stimulating conversation with inspiring individuals, most of whom I have never met (thank you, my learning network). It appears you can’t turn off a turned on brain!
So to ground myself and connect to this time of year I have been taking time to be present in holiday tasks: playing with my children, swimming at the beach, reading Christmas stories, enjoying music and wrapping presents. Surely I’m not the only one for whom the careful, mindful process of wrapping gifts is meditative and grounding? Anything can be meditative and grounding if we approach it mindfully and with presence.
I also find creativity and making to be grounding and connecting acts. Things we make ourselves seem to have a magical energy, an investment of the person or people whose hands forged the object or made the marks. I have been hand-making ornaments, recycling found materials into eco-decorations and picking foliage from the garden for vases. Our Christmas tree is one made by my eldest son and I (he was two years old when we banged it out in our garage) out of upcycled scraps of wood. The physicality of painting, cutting, pasting and glitter-shaking can anchor us to the holiday spirit.
I was reminded recently that being a flâneuse is about being a ‘human being’ not a ‘human doing‘. Christmas is the perfect time to focus on what is important, in whatever way is meaningful for our family. Coming together should be about celebrating our connections with those we care about – in all their perfect imperfection – and taking the time to really be with them and with ourselves. Happy being.
The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present. ~ Eckhart Tol