Christmas is here!  The youthful me gets all giddy with memories of the excitement of Santa, presents and delicious food, and long days playing with my cousins.  The adult me feels the trepidation of expectation, expense, and emotional pressure.

It’s never been a perfect fit for me.  There’s the dominant iconography of pine trees, snow, and a man dressed in red velvet and boots – all this in a sun-baked land where pines are an introduced species, snow a rarity, and where, in my youth, any man in velvet might have become a victim of homophobia.  And my family, like all others, can bristle when in close quarters for a whole day.

Of course, I’ve watched it become more commercial – the earlier onset of Christmas carols in the shops, the excessive consumption of both food and presents, and the growing feeling that it was all becoming a bit of a chore, another day to just get through, survive.

Christmas day is a metaphor for life, a 24-hour microcosm.  Early on, it’s all smiles and happiness, just like when a baby is born. By lunchtime a bit of frazzle has set in as the physical and emotional ‘work’ of the day takes its toll, and any unattended issues among family and friends start to present themselves. That’s adulthood.  At the end, it’s a time for reflection, surrounded by the debris of the day, imagining what could be different next time.  Boom! Full circle.

So I have a little life mantra, which is therefore a Christmas mantra, and I’d like to share it with you.  It’s not mine, but I have the author’s permission to share:

“Be open, warm, and good.

By being open, we respond easily to the unplanned, unexpected and surprising.  We take things in but let them out just as quickly, not holding on.  We imagine our heart as a bubble of light, an open space, which helps us keep afloat in tumultuous times.

Being warm attracts others and comforts them. We are not frosty or icy, but the anthesis of those things.  We imagine a fire inside us, a place of energy, an antidote to the coldness of interpersonal pain and distance.  Any person with whom we engage benefits from the warmth. We love.

Being good requires mastery of self, a desire to lead by modelling behaviours we ourselves desire. Being good means being aware of our impact on time, place, and people, acknowledging that the only thing we truly control is ourselves. We imagine the bubble of light and the fire inside us as a lantern, not for others to follow, but for ourselves. We are led positively”

There is no doubt that Christmas can be emotionally and psychologically stressful. Please reach out to a mental health professional if you need support during the festive season. Merry Christmas to one and all.

Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

Disclaimer: This article contains the views of the author and is not a replacement for therapeutic support. Please reach out to a registered therapist if you are experiencing distress and require assistance.