Words by Paula Coogan
December 20th, 2018
Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year…until it arrives and I end up with an expectation hangover! I don’t know about you but since ‘growing up’, Christmas has far too often come and gone without me really feeling like I truly enjoyed it.
“When I feel Christmassy, then it will be magical/fun/joyful/exciting” is what I told myself so many times. I would wait for that wonderful feeling and then it would all be over with for another year. I was doing it wrong for years! That concept of ‘when, then’ thinking i.e. when this happens, then I’ll…, doesn’t work- in fact, it’s the opposite. By being excited, having fun and sparking joy, we create that Christmassy feeling. The problem is often we’re too f*cking busy!
If you’re not feeling Christmassy and you want to, here’s what you need to do.
1. Make time for it
I’ll put a disclaimer here to say that there is no such thing as being able to ‘make time’. What this really means is prioritising, creating boundaries, saying no to others and yes to yourself. Seriously, the most wonderful time of the year is also one of the busiest times of the year so out some non-negotiable ‘you’ time in your diary. What to do with that time is in step 2.
2. Create a catalogue of Christmas delights
Finish the sentences below with your own answers. Don’t buy into what you think it should be, tap into your own memories to answer the prompts and try to come up with as many answers as you can for each one:
Christmas is the sound of…
Christmas is the taste of…
Christmas is the smell of…
Christmas is the sight of…
Christmas is the touch of…
For me, Christmas is the sound of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on the TV; it’s the taste of freshly cooked ham on Brennan’s bread with butter and a cup of tea; it’s the smell of cinnamon and apple scented candles; it’s the sight of parents making magic for their kids by sneaking out to the car late on Christmas Eve to bring in the presents; it’s the touch of my family- hugs especially from the littles.
I’ll admit that writing this is a bit difficult because tapping into certain memories of what Christmas means brings back happy memories of things that I can’t have anymore. For example, Christmas is also very much the sound of my mam’s excited voice telling my sister and me to wait for her before going down to open presents; it’s the smell of the church where I brought my nan to midnight mass on Christmas Eve; it’s the sound of the church choir singing Christmas carols; it’s the taste of freshly cooked ham sandwiches made by her; it’s the touch of people I’ve had to say goodbye to.
I’m sharing this with you because I’d suspect it’s the same for many of you. Christmas is different now to what it may have been in the past because things change. We may have lost people, moved home, be separated or experienced other changes. When I tap into those memories, it kind of hurts. But I’ve learned that it’s important to honour these feelings as well because they are also so much of what Christmas means to me and I’m so incredibly lucky to have those memories even if thinking about them makes me feel sad.
In honouring these memories, I sent a Christmas card to the new owners of my nan’s house and to the house where I previously lived with my mam and sister, wishing them a happy Christmas and tell them that the house they now live in was a home full of happy memories and wishing their family the same joy. I’ve done this now the past couple of years and they might think I’m nuts but hey, they might smile and feel good too!
Once you have your catalogue of Christmassy delights…
3. Act on them!
This might mean taking out old photo albums and having a cry in your PJs while you remember Christmas past but honey, that is SO ok! It might mean creating a mess in your kitchen as you try to replicate an old recipe for nostalgia sake. It might leave you feeling grateful and saying thanks to your big sister for consoling you when you found out about Santa Claus. It might be about pleasure and eating a box of Roses chocolates (only the nice ones, of course) in front of the TV and fire. It might be about feeling peaceful and going for a walk on the beach on Christmas Day. It might mean taking a few minutes to look at your Christmas tree, really looking at it, and taking it all in. It might mean scheduling time to wrap presents leisurely and really enjoying it. It might mean looking out your window on Christmas Eve and smiling at the parents quietly taking toys out of the car. It might mean hugging your kids or nieces and nephews extra hard and feeling their excitement.
Feeling Christmassy is about ‘feeling’ Christmassy, not ‘doing’ Christmassy. Allow yourself to tap into what Christmas feels like to you and then give yourself the best Christmas present ever by creating that feeling again in whatever way you can.
It’s not going to be the same as it was when you were a kid, but perhaps it could be even better.
Paula Coogan is the founder of The Quarter Life Coach – a vibrant career and life coaching company aimed at empowering women in their 20s and 30s to practice courage, figure out their true desires both personally and professionally and then, to make it happen.
Her work is delivered through several live group programs and Masterminds including Career Breakthrough Mastermind and The Wisdom Circle. She also works one-on-one with clients who are ready for big transitions in their relationships, careers and businesses.
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