Christmas and holidays survival guide, sort of…

In the last decade or so, most people shifted from loving the holidays to hating the guts out of December’s advertising and consumerism pushy tactic and hence disliking Christmas and everything that comes with it.

I honestly can’t blame anyone for feeling that way, the society has transformed this time of year into a manipulating, stressing period for everyone by imprinting the shopping spree on everyone including children, by imprinting on us this need of getting stuff and needing things to feel fulfilled instead of thinking what is Christmas all about and what was the actual point of these holidays? The guilt and resentment and self-doubt people end up building up when they fail to comply to what the advertisements promote, and to this fake image society built up around Christmas is shattering for people. Truth is: this is NOT the truth of Christmas and it never was, in any culture, be it Christian or not. Owning stuff is not making your Christmas better! Your 6 year old getting an iPhone is not making his life better nor serving your child or you, in fact it does the contrary. Truth is, very few little people end up affording everything the adds promote. You are not failing your family or lover by not complying to that. You are not a bad person because of this, and you deserve to be happy on Christmas.

The stuff you own, the decorations you buy, the gifts you give or receive are truly not what this is about. This is something that hijacks the real magic of the holidays from you and something that will only make you feel worse at the end of it, and truth being told: it makes people feel empty, both the giver and the receiver. Sure, might bring a second of happiness the moment of gift giving, but what happens next? It fades in another moment or two leaving behind an empty pocket, guilt, resentment, worse case even disappointment. You won’t feel better, you’ll feel guilty for spending your money on stuff you don’t really need, or not spending enough and not complying with someone’s expectations (such as your kid or fiancee). This is definitely not what the winter holidays are about.

Christmas and winter holidays are about love, about kindness and about togetherness, about forgiving and sharing. Be with your family or friends, be with those who have no one to be with, this time is about bringing hope and love and friendliness into someone else’s life! This is what Christmas is about: hope, love and togetherness. It is a time in which people should start shifting focus from themselves to others, from material to spiritual needs. Start thinking there are people in the world who get nothing for Christmas and who have no money to afford food, or no food to buy in the shops because there are no shops where they live. There are people who have no one to share a word with, or a hug. There are 7.5 billion people on Earth and still half of them feel lonely and helpless. This is what Christmas is about: bringing hope and changing their lives a little bit. And you’re not doing that by buying as many expensive things as your bank account can afford or by feeling stressed to do so, or guilty you couldn’t.

The magic part should be in focus, and with that you should think about what someone really needs and misses. Usually that’s not something you buy. If you’re away most of the time with work and travel, probably what your spouse and children want is more time with you! What your children want is getting to know you more and sharing their experiences with you. No gift will equal that. Make time for who and what you love!

Make time to think that the money you’d give on an iPhone is probably enough to feed half a village in Africa. Expensive gifts are simply distractions from what the world really is and needs, what you really need! What people really need. You need to start living your life and that means to experience it with people who matter to you, with people who you would matter to. Giving your time or intention to someone who needs it is worth more than buying an island or a spaceship.

So how to survive this time of year? First of all don’t fall into the consumerism trap. Don’t feel guilty for not affording something a billionaire affords. Don’t think so much about materialism, think of emotional needs and physical needs of your family, friends and people who have no one, and your own emotional and physical needs too! The joy you can bring to them by being with them or showing them you care is something money can’t buy, ever! You can give gifts, but make it something personal. Something you know no advertisement can nail for that person.

Avoid too much contact with these destructive and manipulating environments as it will get to you in one way or the other.

Don’t rant about it and don’t feel guilty for a fake image society is using to manipulate consumers! Truth is, most of these things you don’t need nor want. They won’t change your life into anything better.

Christmas became fake. It became all about showing off.

Yes, I know even the helping spree is considered fake. We should think about others all the time not just on Christmas, but if we can’t do that, at least this is a time of year to remember to do so. Who knows, maybe by remembering it more you end up doing it other times too.

The winter season asks us to warm up, it asks us to warm up our hearts and other people’s hearts. It’s about remembering we are human and not robots. About remembering we can’t survive alone. It’s about shifting back to being there for others and make their heart tick as will our own. The long nights are here to remind us to rest and refresh our thinking. Everything is cyclic in the universe and so should we be: we should be taking the time for ourselves and give ourselves what we are missing and what we had no time for to do and give during the rest of the year.

Winter celebrations, even before Christianity, were about the new cycle starting: the earth being cleaned up and purified by snow and cold, the sun starting to grow the days again into a beautiful rebirth of spring that will follow. It was about bringing the light back into the darkness and about togetherness. It has always been about this. People used to gather for making the light shine brighter literally.

Even the christian Christmas is about togetherness: about how everyone unites to celebrate the birth of the son of God, a new hope to the world and to humanity.

The story of Santa Claus is the same: about bringing hope to children (and their parents) who had poor material situations, about joy and love and kindness and lighting up the hearts of bitter people to embrace their humane side.

Nobody ever said anything about expensive gifts and lashing decorations, about huge trees and waste of food. On the contrary: it is about meaningful gifts and not wasting anything, about hope and rebirth into something better. If you can find this feeling within you, cause you have it as it’s a given instinct we have since the start of humanity and after thousands of years like this it became imprinted within us genetically; so if you can find it: you’ll find the magic of winter holidays and you’ll overcome any stress involved with it and manage to teach your children the true meaning of it all. It’s about becoming better, refreshing your spirit and body, and being better with the others.

Don’t buy into all the advertisement and tricks of brands, trust your heart and just spend this time with meaning! Collect memories and emotions, not things! Time is priceless and it is not waiting for us. Spend it wisely!

Oh, and if meeting some family members is also a reason for stress or anxiety, cause we know we can’t always choose our family… just try to be positive about it. Avoid arguing on things that you already argued 100 times for without getting to any conclusion. Maybe gently change the subject to something worth discussing that might elevate the mood for everyone.

Just take a second before reacting, breathe and stop from any impulsive reactions. Imagine some of the reasons behind the argument, it’s almost never meant to make you feel bad, it’s usually just a worry coming out of love. Nagging is not a great way of expressing love, but it still comes from the right place of the heart. Just try to imagine maybe how much this same aspect might have changed that person’s life in the past and how they don’t want that for you. Be grateful for having someone that cares like that for you even if you don’t agree with their ways, and think of their need of having this love returned in a warm manner. Conflicts aren’t necessary when you can see the other side of the story, you can actually embrace the real feeling behind it and let it return with positive vibes and love to this person.

Merry Christmas! Much love and light to all of you!

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