Embracing Christmas rituals
Day 347/366 days Towards Self-Mastery.
It's never too late to create a Christmas tradition. As our life circumstances change, and especially if they change for what seems like the worse, it can easily lead us to want to forget about preparing the rituals for Christmas that we've known or even that we aspire to.
Life has many twists and turns and not all of them feel great, especially when they occur around the Christmas season. Yet our hearts yearn for the deep sense of stability that practiced rituals bring.
If there was something we did well as a family it was the rituals of the festive seasons. With European parents who hailed from a rich tradition of religious rituals, it was no surprise that they continued to enrich our lives as well.
When I left home it all seemed like too much bother, until I spent a Christmas without them. Then I realised the powerful meaning of those magnificent celebrations. So even as a single woman I made sure that I decorated the Christmas tree on the first Sunday of advent, lit a candle each of the Sundays through the advent season, wrapped gifts, cooked Christmas food and invited friends to join me for Christmas. There was never a shortage of "orphan" friends to gather up to celebrate with.
Later, Christmas marked the end of my marriage and a significant loss of faith in myself. It was a difficult time. The following year as Christmas came around it seemed surreal to be doing it all again without a complete family, but I realised that it was equally important to work out how to navigate that time for my whole family even though we now lived in different houses.
We worked out a tradition of sharing and ensuring that everyone's needs were met. Sometimes we even joined together to celebrate together in the mornings, then go our separate ways in the afternoon. Or perhaps it was a shared lunch.
Now I am again living alone, and I put my Christmas tree up on the 6th December. I light the Christmas candle each Sunday of advent, move Mary and Joseph along on their journey to the Inn, bake the usual Christmas goodies, and some new ones to try out and add to the repertoire. Then I invite family and friends to join me over the Christmas period, phone friends I haven't seen for a while, write cards and wrap gifts.
If you don't have a Christmas tradition and wonder what all the fuss is about, try it for yourself. Keep it really simple. Start with a few simple ideas that appeal to you. When I left home and had to create a tradition of my own, it had to be very different to that of our large family. I was single, and lived in either nurse's homes or small flats. So I needed to figure out what I could do that felt like Christmas and suited my situation. Each year I added new ideas and formed a tradition that I now indulge in each year. The familiarity of it is comforting to the soul.
Each item I pick from the storage boxes to put on the tree has a story. Some were hand-made by friends with me in my workplace, when I couldn't afford to buy decorations. Others were gifts, some purchased from my favourite Christmas shops over the years. Others gathered on overseas trips. And others, my favourites, were given to me by children, nieces and nephews, hand-made in their craft classes.
In time you'll have so many wonderful memories stored away to rediscover each Christmas. If you have children, it will be a special time for them as well.
Take your time, create and enjoy the deeply personal rituals of the Christmas Season. Let them mellow over time as they marinate in your family history in the making.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.