I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach! ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Particular times of the year bring us full circle back to the self we have been previously at that time of year, to those with whom we’ve spent those times, and perhaps who and where we wish to be at this time in years ahead. These are times for reflection, backwards-looking nostalgia and future-imagining dreaming. On this day – 22nd December – one year ago, I was reflecting on Christmas, on making traditions with my young family and on balancing holiday indulgence with kindness, generosity, stillness and quiet appreciation.
Here I am again, counting myself lucky for being on school holidays and therefore able to wind down with my children as Christmas approaches. I’m able to be mindful in the choosing and wrapping of gifts, sit with my kids as they decorate Christmas cards and glitter bomb decorations. I have the gift of being in PhD examination limbo this Christmas, so I’m luxuriating in letting go completely from work and study. Instead, I’m immersing myself in domestic, creative and parental roles. Gardening, making, playing. Wrapping, decorating, baking. The wonderful thing about these tasks is that I don’t have to be particularly good at them. I can be immersed in the process and the people, not success or failure (just see the skew, clunky gingerbread house below!).
The holidays, if we manage it, can be free from pressure, accountability and performativity. Hugs and handmade and asymmetry. Giving time, conversation and listening. Retrospection, affection and introspection, rather than inspection or perfection. Accepting ourselves and others, and whatever our holidays look like, whether that is fancy or basic, extravagant or frugal, celebratory or sad.So in our house we’re making a gingerbread house (but as we tend to stay away from gluten, refined sugars, colours and preservatives, we’ve given it away). We’re baking Christmas cookies for Santa. We’re donating toys and clothes. We’re hand making decorations. We’re lighting candles for those people who are missing from our Christmastime. We’re placing presents beneath our hand made upcycled ‘tree’, nailed together from scraps of wood. We’re talking about giving and receiving and gratitude and spending time with those we love. And I’m popping my fair share of champagne corks, too.
On Christmas Eve, Santa will leave ‘snowy’ footprints by the tree. The cookies and carrot left for him and the reindeer will disappear. On Christmas morning, we’ll go to the beach and build sandcastles.
The édu flâneuse wishes you a wonderful, flâneurial holiday season, in which you are deeply immersed in your experiences and able to be attentive to others and to yourself, to the energies around you (perhaps I’m being influenced by my recent viewing of The Force Awakens). Happy holidays.