A Candle for Joy

Not long to go now…we are in the thick of it, the third advent candle is lit for joy and the joy is everywhere, on the radio and in the shops, dangling from every Christmas tree and reflected in the eyes of our children who at this stage, just can’t wait!

I’m beginning to think I can’t wait either. Everyone is asking me am I ready? You’ve probably been asked too. Perhaps you are like someone I know who is running themselves ragged buying, baking, and planning parties not to mention, earlier this month, chopping down her own Christmas tree after driving halfway round the country to find the farm, and she is still only halfway through her Christmas gift list! She is one of the many that has asked me am I ready.

She called me up on her mobile. “Well, are you ready?” That’s all I heard before the line went dead. I went on about my business, the business of Christmas shopping.  It took me a couple of hours. Half of one hour was taking up by looking for a music shop that no longer exists (because everyone downloads now, don’t you know) and the other half I spent looking for a Christmas jumper for Missy, not because I was fussy but because they were all sold out of Christmas jumpers in the first three shops. Eventually, I managed to get one and it did put a smile on Missy’s face but the bleeding thing nearly put a bunion on my foot! I was home and dried out and most of my presents wrapped when my friend called me back. “Sorry, I was going through a bad patch earlier,” she said. I remember a time when a ‘bad patch’ meant you disappeared under the duvet for a week but she had only disappeared under a bridge and lost her Wi-Fi signal. She wasn’t the one driving but it took her five hours to get back to me after arriving at her destination, the shops. Halfway through her Christmas shopping spree she took a self-induced panic attack and became so completely overwhelmed by the stress of it all that she ended up in Starbucks haven’t a skinny Latte. If I had my dear friend’s high expectations of the perfect Christmas, and the perfect present, I would have been helping myself to something a whole lot stronger.

The Christmas season can be an exciting time, but for many Christmas tends to be a very stressful time for people especially for women, in my humble opinion, and if we are totally honest some of it—who am I kidding?—most of it is, as my friend in Starbucks with sore feet rightly put it, self-induced. I too landed home with sore feet but to experience the joy of Christmas it helps to be mindful that you don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to buy everything your children want. You don’t have to see all of your relatives on Christmas day. You don’t have to have a traditional Christmas dinner. You don’t have to have a perfectly clean, perfectly decorated house. You may not meet the commercial definition of perfect Christmas, but if you experience more and materialise less, your Christmas will be way more fun and joyous than any “perfect” celebration. Christmas is messy, it’s overwhelming, it can be chaotic, yet there is so much joy to be found if we stop shopping for it and allow ourselves to drop our expectations and just experience the joy of the festive season.