I’m a big fan of winter - I love the crisp cold days, wooly scarves, getting wrapped up, roasted chestnuts, hot fires, hot chocolate. Etc.
Here’s the bit I don’t like - the crazy consumption surrounding our most cherished of holidays - Christmas. At some point we made a transition from the spirit of giving to the spirit of buying, consuming, wrapping, stocking and stacking. Overwhelming advertising, stocking up on everything - piling on more, more, more.
As a yogi this is pretty distressing. I managed to somewhat escape this by minimising the shit out of my life, and settling into digital nomad life on the other side of the world, in warm, sunny Thailand. But they love Christmas over there too - decorated trees were everywhere, replete with fake presents - empty wrapped boxes the universal symbol of the gift of giving.
Still, a huge part of me loves Christmas - yes really. And so I took a last minute decision to fly that 9000km home to be with my family. To meet my gorgeous baby niece for the first time. Quality time with the family. Travelling with a small suitcase and officially Not Doing Presents. And in between baby cuddles and the occasional crying fit and watching other people prepare for the holidays, I got a bit of time to consider the deeper meaning of Christmas.
This morning I spent a decent 30 minutes meditating on the meaning of Christmas and firstly - it sent me off into an epic nap. And secondly - all I got was “love”. Initially I wasn’t sure that was so helpful, but it is the answer I get to the majority of of my deepest questions these days - what is the meaning of life, where can I take my business next, what do I need to do - who am I.
Consistently the answer I get is LOVE.
Honestly, this IS the answer to everything. Why is it so important at Christmas? And how can we lose it so easily in the endless race to wrap, the constant consumerism, the family arguments and the overcooked sprouts? At it’s foundation, Christmas really is all about love. Reconnecting to family, reconnecting to our community - remembering the love. And we give presents as tokens of our love. A token of our gratitude for the things that we hold most precious to us. Being REALLY present with this - that is the best present of all.
So here are my top tips for making the most of this Christmas, whether you are with your loved ones, or, like I might have been - on the other side of the world. Here is the bonus best bit - they are all free, they don’t involve consuming, and they are all easy as pecan pie.
- Choose Love this Christmas. Love isn’t measured by how much you’ve spent, or by the size of the parcels under the tree. It’s a kind word here and there. It’s genuine connection. It’s spending time with your loved ones. It is the higher emotions of joy, gratitude, happiness and peace. Spend time here and notice the difference it makes to your Christmas celebrations.
- Tap into Presence. No - not the gifts! Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whoever you are with, take the opportunity to take a moment out, breathe deep and really connect to your surroundings. This is so energising, so refreshing, and so damn gratifying. In this moment is where Christmas, and all of life, plays out, and practicing this is how to make this Christmas super-memorable (And yes, Highly instagrammable).
- Give back - the ultimate gift. Practice kindness and spread even more festive cheer beyond what is under your Christmas tree. You only need to donate what you can - whether that is foodbanks, time, money, clothes, or even those gifts that may just be loved even more by others. And PS - Christmas is a great time to get on with minimising.
- Get outside! Enjoy that beautiful crisp winter air. Pine woodlands, beaches, the hills, nature - lush! I grew up with a tradition of family walks on Christmas Day and - honestly - I remember hating the idea as a kid, all I wanted to do was play with the presents or eat all the food. But I always loved it - that rosy glow you get after a brisk winter walk, and the satisfaction of getting exercise, fresh air and working up an appetite for that amazing festive fayre. I know that as a grown up I definitely want to keep that tradition going.
So however you choose to celebrate Christmas this year, do it with all your love.
Love Alex x