As we rush through the final weekend before Christmas, thinking about all of the shopping we are yet to do and all of the Christmas food preparation still in front of us, is it any wonder we often feel frazzled and exhausted come Christmas Day. Yet, being your best self for those you love on Christmas Day is often the greatest gift you can give to your family and friends.
I like to get as much pre-panning done during this last week as possible – making lists and checking them twice, baking tasty treats and popping them in the freezer (like my Chocolate Balls – recipe below), pre-packing my suitcase for the visit to my parent’s home where our family Christmas will be this year and scheduling time for last minute catch ups with those special people in my life. Whilst busy, I also find this time particularly uplifting, as I potter around the house with intent, ticking off my “to do” tasks and thinking about what a wonderful Christmas it will be with my family.
This year will be extra special, as it is my gorgeous grand nephew Ollie’s first Christmas, and my niece Sarah is also having her first baby – yes I will be a great Aunty twice over! Buying Christmas presents has had new meaning this year (and been oh so much fun) as I have re-lived all of those past Christmas’ when my nieces and nephews were younger – presents galore under the tree, wrapping paper everywhere and babies playing with empty boxes more so than the presents themselves!
So, this year gratitude is my accessory of choice. This year I am grateful for a loving and supportive family, new babies energising our Christmas day, special friends who are always there when I need them, colleagues, past and present, who always make time for a coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner at this busy time of year, wonderful neighbours who share my love of homemade treats and generously share their own (you can never have too many sweet delights at Christmas), and for you dear readers, who give me such a sense of purpose.
Whatever it is you are most grateful for this Christmas, let others know. Give your nearest and dearest a surprise hug, tell someone close to you just how much you appreciate them and why, share more and, most of all, be present – the best present of all.
Here are my top five tips for ensuring gratitude remains the right attitude this festive season:
- Embrace the Christmas spirit – if you are travelling this Christmas, be a little more patient than usual on the roads and at airports. Everyone is trying to get to their Christmas destination as well, so turn up the tunes, draw breath and give yourself and everyone else around you a break.
- Be in the moment– don’t worry about what the new year will bring but rather actually listen to what your family and friends are sharing with you, ask questions, engage in the conversation and be a participant in their lives.
- Have compassion for those around you – whilst we may have many things in common with our family and friends, we are all different people and react differently to stressful situations. Often at Christmas, more so than other times, hurtful things can get said in the stress of the season and heat of the moment. Take a moment if this happens to you – by all means speak your peace in a calm and respectful way if you feel you need to, however don’t get angry or strike back. Take a deep breath and try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment – what is going on with them that might make them behave in a particular way? Whilst you may not be in a place where you can forgive right there and then , just feel the feelings you are supposed to feel, reflect on them and quite often the pain associated with the hurtful moment will dissipate a little.
- Look forward, not backwards – we can’t change the past, no matter how disappointing, hurtful or unsatisfying your year may have been (and I certainly hope it wasn’t). Focus on the positives, view life’s curve balls as learning lessons and let this Christmas be about future possibilities and plans.
- Make time for you – carve out some quiet time for reflection and restoration, play some of your favourite music, schedule a walk or take a nap. If you are feeling your best you will bring this positive and relaxed energy to those around you.
So this Christmas Day, take time to be in the moment, think about why those special people in your life mean so much to you and how enriched your life is because of them – and tell them so! Be grateful for the conversations, the memories, the laughter and, perhaps even, the tears, you share.
Wishing you all a safe and happy festive season.
- I tin condensed milk
- 1 packet sweet, plain biscuits (ie. Marie)
- 1 cup coconut
- 2 tbsp. cocao powder
- 1. Crush biscuits in a food processor.
- 2. Transfer crushed biscuits to a large bowl and add all other ingredients. Mix together until well combined.
- 3. Roll mixture into balls and coat in coconut.
- 4. Refrigerate before serving.
- These Chocolate Balls can also be made up to 2 weeks ahead and kept in your freezer.