Your Xmas Survival Guide 2014

Every time a bell rings an angel gets it’s wings” It’s a Wonderful Life

I absolutely adore Christmas. It is the one day of the year when everyone tries to make an effort and the world stops to a quiet beat and hum of family get-togethers. Even if it is a terrible disaster it’s the love and effort that counts.

My father died when I was six and my mother was very poor but she was like a kid at Christmas. We had a mixed bag of Christmases over the years, some were dreadful times with abusive, drunken men – which always got worse at Christmas – but there were always the traditions of love that kept us going and the one thing my mother and I had in common was an innate sense of optomism!  My mother would always stuff a nylon stocking full of satsumas, knickers and other small magical treats and on Christmas Eve we were allowed to open one Christmas present and all huddled together to watch the BBC ghost story, which always spooked me out. Traditionally on Christmas morning we had a small glass of cherry brandy as a treat while we opened our presents and on New Year’s Eve she would do a tarot reading laying 12 cards which represented each month of the following year for me – and this is a tradition which I will still carry on.

My mother died on December 11th and she really wanted just one more Christmas, at her funeral when we carried her coffin through the church it brushed in between two Christmas trees – she would have loved that. Always in my thoughts, at Christmas lunch I lay her a place at the table with her photo, a small plate of food and a glass of cherry brandy and we all raise a toast to her.

Christmas can be a difficult time if you are single. I like to pull out all the stops at Christmas and it has always been a time where I have invited my single friends or anyone I meet who is on their own, as Christmas is a time (as every day is!) to be especially generous of spirit and share the love. I think we have moved on from it being solely a Christian experience and to me it is a day of unconditional love and compassion for all – a day when everything else stands still.

My favourite film and another tradition is watching ‘Its a wonderful life’ although my son always moans I know he secretly loves, it particularly after being subjected to it for over 20 years!  Without giving the plot away the message of this film is an incredibly spiritual message, without each of us the world would not be the same and almost everyone we know’s life would have turned out differently, even if we don’t know it we are more powerful than we can possibly know!

My own message to you goes out to anyone who is spending today alone for any reason, make this day a day for you when you make a total commitment to yourself.  You can make it a day of peace and pleasure.  Remember that you have true freedom to create exactly the day that you want, indulge yourself, cook something delicious to eat, light candles and dress to please you.  Or spend the day snuggled in your pyjamas watching whatever you want on TV. Do whatever brings you peace, happiness and joy, you are a unique soul and no one can take your place.  Remember that you are loved and more special than you could possibly know.

This can be a truly magical time of year, but it can also be a time when our expectations go one way and our experience goes another.  I hope with all my heart that you have a wonderful time over Christmas, but if that doesn’t look likely, here are a few tips on how to get through the season intact:

1: Embrace the Christmas message, remember that everyone’s intentions come from a place of unconditional love, even if people seem out to push your buttons don’t rise to it.  Also, it can be an emotional time for many people as it stirs up ghosts of Christmas past, childhood memories and deep psychological issues.  To overcome this rub a white candle with olive oil and visualise unconditional love and peace filling the atmosphere.

2: You may be facing Christmas in the throes of grieving someone who has recently passed, lost a lover or generally just feeling lonely, remember it’s just one day.  You can spend it quietly if you want to, treat it as a day of indulgence for yourself or think about helping others by getting involved in some charity work.  Buy a smudge stick (dried, white sage wrapped in string which is used for purification) and smudge your home and visualise all the past being cleared.

3: Put your expectations to one side.  Christmas tensions can come from trying too hard, wanting everyone to be happy and everything to go perfectly.  Be gracious and grateful for the present and let go of any unrealistic fantasies.  Keep a rose quartz in your pocket, it is the unconditional love stone and will heal your heart if you feel hurt.

4: Don’t rock the boat!   If you know that certain topics always end up in a row, then avoid them.  Just be yourself, warm and loving, spreading happiness to all and avoid any issues that have previously ended up in a festive argument. Visualise a pink light around the room and people filled with unconditional love.

5: Make certain that you spend time on your own or just with your partner, even if it is only for a walk or quiet cup of tea.  It will help you stay grounded and centred and at least you can be the beacon of towering strength.

6: Enjoy yourself but don’t over in indulge.  It is only one day a year, so allow yourself some treats but keep things in moderation. One too many sherries can lead to arguments!  Drink plenty of water, try and get some fresh air and watch the alcohol consumption.  You don’t want to feel terrible on Boxing Day.

7: Live and let live.  Sticking to neutral topics means staying out of any debates about Christmas itself!  Respect that everyone has their own beliefs and different ways of enjoying themselves and most importantly have a happy Christmas.

First published in Soul and Spirit magazine

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