Christmas: what works (& doesn’t)

So, it’s 3 days before Christmas 2011 as I write these words. I’m the queen of last-minute Christmas, let me tell you!? So tomorrow I’ll be doing last-minute scrambling (doing some baking & food-in-a-jar things as gifts this year). If I weren’t involved in a family brunch & gift exchange on the 24th, I’d be doing the scramble then!

Christmas is a time of great ambivalence for many of us, hmmm? I’m just noting down some thoughts about what works for me at this time of year, & what doesn’t.

Presents/Shopping: Giving presents (& receiving them) is fun, of course! But I HATE shopping; always have. What I’ve learned to do is keep it simple. I’ve downloaded the stocking gig, now that my children are practically ancient. This year I’m giving the main people on my “list” a selection of home-baked items & some meals in a jar. Well, one friend is also getting a very special book, & another a very special CD. & I came up with this kooky last-minute idea of creating a folder-full of inspirational items I photocopied & threw together – main idea being to cheer folks up & (hopefully!) inspire them a wee bit. Bottom line? The gifts I give are less about money & more about the personal touch. But I’m also all for shrinking one’s list, keeping it simple, & being sure to be charitably generous along the way.

Homemade items/Finding the time: I love gifts that are “homemade” – gifts that showcase an investment of thoughtfulness & time, as opposed to money (of the latter, I do not, shall we say, have scads). My daughters both once “burned” CDs for me, & these delighted me to no end. In “the good old days” I used to make homemade chocolate turtles that knocked everyone’s socks off. Well, no turtles this year! (I did make homemade truffles for a person who always used to really count on the turtles. The truffles are pretty darn tasty too!!) I’m also making chocolate chip cookies for the friend who has always claimed I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide world. (Isn’t it lovely to have one’s efforts appreciated??)

Winter activities/Climate change: I grew up in eastern Canada (in the province of Quebec, in a small town west of Montreal), where, when I was a kid, there was always a ton of snow. So I’ve always loved doing outdoorsy stuff on Christmas day. Skating, tobogganing, that kind of thing. But climate change seems to have done in the white Christmases, where I live anyway, so ... I will have to content myself with a grand long walk on December 25th. One must be adaptable!!

Family/Family: I guess we could probably all write a book about the many & various & sundry challenges we encounter, dealing with our families at this time of year. Ambivalence, as I said, hmmm?? I’ll spare us all any crazy personal experiences – thus protecting both the guilty & the innocent. Let’s just put it this way: if our own “blood” relatives are more or less impossible to deal with &/or for a variety of reasons we are not from what you might call a “close” family, or divorce has knocked it apart &/or if we’re from a family that is downright bad for our mental health, I say we find/create our very own new conglomeration of people. We’re not born into a tribe, the way we were in the old, old days. So we have to create our own. My Christmases these days are a mixture of friends & family – & it’s working very well.

leading us oh-so-logically to

Traditions/Nostalgia/Flexibility: I can “do” nostalgia as well as anyone. I can wallow in self-pity & lament that “It isn’t the way it used to be” … sniff, sniff. But I’d rather roll with the punches, as they say, & innovate – grow, adapt, change. This ability too I wish for all of us! Things ain’t what they used to be. The only constant is change, hmmm? Buckminster Fuller once said, “Don’t fight forces; use them,” & I think that’s tremendously wise advice.

Best wishes to all of us as we navigate this often-challenging, often-fraught time of the year!!!


p.s. My Christmas wish list is here

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates (quoted in “Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia,” by Rob Brezsny)