people around christmas dinner table

Twelve tips for a happy Christmas

In Insight and Experience, Insight and Self Awareness by shakti.durga0 Comments

We hope these tips help you to be at peace over Christmas. Remember why we are celebrating in the first place, and enjoy the holiday.

The beauty and grace of Christmas carols, midnight mass, the nativity – these bring to our attention the real meaning of Christmas, and the spiritual essence of the celebration. Yet, while we get together on Christmas day with the best of intentions, the stress and the expectation around the holidays can really put a strain on our relationships.

The practicalities of Christmas and the lead up to it is a busy time. First, the list of people we need to purchase presents for is sometimes as long as your arm… and what to get them? Then there is all the actual shopping, coping with the crowds and the traffic, and with expectations of gifts to be given and received, as well as the financial burden of it all. In addition to the usual juggle, we go to lots of Christmas parties, imbibing sometimes a little too much Christmas cheer. Then there are all of the arrangements and preparations for Christmas lunch, the tree, the food, and present wrapping.

Here in Australia all of that yuletide, winter warming activity is taking place when it is hot. Often it is damned hot! We get wound up, we feel pressure to complete the many things that need to be done before the end of the year. When Christmas turns into new year, many people take their annual vacations, and life doesn’t really seem to return to any semblance of normality till the kids are back at school in early February.

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Lovely as it can be, Christmas can be one of the most difficult times for relationships. When we are back with our family of origin, all of our unresolved childhood stuff comes up and that can be a recipe for drama. What follows here are some tips to keep it all together, and be at peace through Christmas, particularly on Christmas day.

  1. Don’t panic! It really is rule number one about everything. Leading up to Christmas and during it, start a schedule of daily meditation. It will help you relax, feel more at ease, and enjoy the many health benefits that this ancient practice gives. Meditate on Christmas morning to set your energy and clear your mind for the day.
  2. Plan ahead, and avoid the last minute rush. That way you will be more relaxed and in better shape to enjoy the big day. Have a list when you go shopping, and pay cash whenever you can. Practise the virtue of moderation. It is all too easy to overspend when that little piece of plastic is whipped out again and again and before we know it we are paying off Christmas cheer for months.
  3. Avoid competing with siblings or others to hold the best ever Christmas bash. This is feeding our egos not the spirit of Christmas. Keep it simple, make it wholesome, fun, and put the focus on family and friends instead of lavish preparations. Believe in yourself: you don’t have to prove anything.
  4. Some families just love to argue. If that leaves you cold, try to understand that you don’t have to take it on. You don’t have to agree with them, you don’t have to join in. Take a deep breath, remember that lunch will not last forever, and quietly send love to everyone involved, to help them calm down.
  5. Have good manners, even if others don’t. Be empowered to be pleasant. Remember that other people being in their stuff, does not mean that we should give as good as we get. Act, don’t react: think of how your communication might land, and avoid yelling and screaming, even if you feel really justified! Learning to respond rather than have a knee jerk reaction is a part of our spiritual evolution. In practical terms, this means, even after a few glasses of wine, avoid criticising, blaming, attacking, intimidating, demanding, ridiculing, whining, belittling, complaining, withholding, deriding, debasing, and exaggerating. Watch your communication style, make requests not demands, be assertive, not aggressive.
  6. Give up needing to be right about everything. This sucks a lot of energy and fuels conflict. Take a deep breath, and let it go.
  7. Watch out for old patterns of behaviour: avoid falling into being ‘the rebel’ or ‘the peacemaker’ or ‘the difficult child’. You are a grown up now, and have learned a lot since childhood. See if you can notice old family patterns instead of being enmeshed in them. Be the self you are now, don’t be the role you played back then.
  8. Be flexible. Let it flow. Get out of the habit of needing to control the day. Truly, there are a thousand ways to spice a casserole or make a pudding – and, while they might not be how you do it, it will all be okay. The more relaxed and flexible you are, the easier it will be.
  9. Reward every try, don’t be super critical, be ok with individual differences and remember that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, even you!
  10. Some people will do anything for approval. It is something we all need, but often we look for it in all the wrong places. Don’t be dependent upon your family to give approval to you, particularly if they are not so good at giving it. Give yourself lots of approval, and thus avoid becoming a slave to any outrageous expectations or demands your family might make of you. When we approve of ourselves, we are free of the games of the past.
  11. Don’t assume that people should know what support you need or want over Christmas, or at any time. We can get angry, thinking, ‘they should know how I feel or what I need’. However, think for a moment – this is assuming that your family members have advanced telepathic powers and can read minds. Learn to calmly state what you want or need so that at least they know.
  12. For healthy relationships, it is important that there be real, honest and have deep communication. But there is a time and a place! If there is a known area of conflict, Christmas lunch is not the place to air it. So, don’t start a discussion that is likely to create conflict yourself, and agree to another time and place to discuss things if someone else tries to start a disagreement with you.

We hope these tips help you to be at peace over Christmas. Remember why we are celebrating in the first place, and enjoy the holiday.

Join Shakti Durga in Sydney for a fun, practical 2-hour workshop on how to handle tricky relationships during the festive season. Sun 4 Dec, 12-2pm; offered by heartfelt donation (pay what you can): https://www.shantimission.org/events/surviving-christmas-with-ease-grace-a-relationships-manifesto/

Master healer and spiritual teacher Shakti Durga’s book Empowering Relationships presents effective and common sense ideas to make bad relationships good and good ones great, in a spiritual context which acknowledges that we are all growing, learning and becoming more aware. She is the founder of Shanti Mission, where we foster peace and wellbeing through illumination of consciousness. You can find her online at www.shantimission.org | www.shaktidurga.com

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