Christmas Choices

This month, Fiona Cook PTSTA, one of the Directors of Physis Scotland reflects on Christmas, and how it can often be a time of mixed emotions for so many of us. 

Christmas. I wonder really what your thoughts feelings and behaviours are around this time of the year as I imagine there might be many and mixed feelings about the extravagance of the season. There can be misery and sadness as well as how culturally we outwardly celebrate this time with happiness and joy. Twinkly lights, brightlights, Christmas songs resounding in every store we enter and sometimes it can be too much. I know in my script I have my father and grandfather introjected into my Parent ego state and they loathed Christmas. So, sometimes so do I. Thankfully I also have my mother and her mother, who despite their low income, always loved this season because it was about being together and cherishing the sense of belonging. So often I also enjoy it. In my Adult ego state, I know the only person I can change is myself and I can choose how I think, feel and behave at Christmas. I can be silly or serious and I can respond in the moment to what I am experiencing authentically.

I wonder how we can all look at Christmas through a different lens and a different frame of reference? It can be an enchanting time and an exhausting time. In some respects, the actual day itself is just another day which the world dresses up as a special time whether we have a faith or not. In my long and distant past when I was a nurse working in clinical areas, I often had to work on Christmas Day caring for patients who were too ill to be at home. So there are many juxtapositions experienced around this time of year, about how it ‘should’ be and sometimes how it really is for us all.

Here are some of my Christmas thoughts if you fancy reading on…..

C Christmas can be a time of contact and connection with friends and family where we make an effort to be together. I wonder who you will spend Christmas with? People you want to be with or people you think you ‘should’ be with. It’s a thought isn’t it? One way of connecting historically has been to send Christmas cards. Since my husband died 10 years ago, I have not sent cards and have given to a charity of his choice which I love doing every year.

H It is a time of holidays where we can take time off work and spend our time differently. Hopefully it is not a time of humbug liked Scrooge or indeed my Dad who resented the sentiment of the season and the extravagance it involved.

R It can be a time of remembering, reflection and review when we look back to Christmases we have spent before and how each one has a different memory, positive or negative, despite the similarity of our cultural and family traditions.

I invitations abound! Neighours being neighourly. Friends being friendly, Colleagues being collegial, family being familial. It can be exhausting and expensive and we don’t have to accept them all. Who might we invite to be with us? What can we offer?

S Sentiments abound. There can be sadness and sorrow as we remember times with family and friends who are no longer here, and there can be joy and happiness as we account for and welcome new members of family and friends to celebrate with us. It is good to allow ourselves to feel all of these authentic emotions. They are real and not to be discounted.

T Traditions of this season involve trees and tinsel, decorations everywhere. Twinkly lights. They can help the dingiest place look enchanting, can’t they? There is something about the traditions of this season that feels comfortable and magical. I always love putting up a Christmas tree and decorating it with new and familiar baubles. My favourites are still the ones my children made all these years ago and I still keep and cherish them to bring out each year. The food we eat traditionally each year at this time is also a big part of the celebrations – often too much and yet we allow ourselves to be more extravagant, because it’s Christmas?

M Magical moments are there if we look for them. Savouring the free joy and happiness of young children as they experience this magical time. It is absolutely beautiful to share their belief that magic can really happen, Santa is real and they enjoy their excitement and imagination. How can we recapture some of these feelings and enjoy our Free Child more?

A Anticipating this season can be a mixture of all sorts of emotions. There are things to do, shopping for self and others, attending carol concerts, nativity plays, going to the Pantomime or the latest movie. Trying to see everybody and do everything right. It can feel overwhelming and then sometimes we don’t enjoy ourselves in the moment. What would it take for us to savour each thing we choose to do and just allow us to enjoy one thing at a time? Or just stay at home and watch Netflix?

S Whatever we think about Christmas it can be a special season. A time where we can perhaps for a short time leave the hurly burly of our lives and enjoy the magic, the fairy tale coming true, and the hope of whatever we hope for actually coming true.

So, Christmas. It is a season and it comes and goes every year. It is a time of giving and receiving and we can give of ourselves to others and also allow us to receive from others. It is a time of holidays and reflection. It is a time where we can choose to be how we want to be and how we want to experience the season. We can choose to do things differently or not, feel what we want to feel and think what we would like to think. So, however you decide to be this Christmas, enjoy the season and make it work for you!