It is 6.30 am, and my time for book writing today is over. I will hit the keyboard again on the 26th of December.
I’ve just been reflecting on how ritual enriches our lives. For the 32 years that I have had children, Christmas Eve has always been a special time. Apart from the candles, and Christmas tree lights, the food and fun together, I always make a point of revisiting the Christmas story, and I read the Clement Clark Moore all time classic, “The night before Christmas” to the whole family, even my grown up children and son-in-laws. Regardless of personal spiritual beliefs, I believe if anyone celebrates this event, it is important to understand the reasons why the event is so revered by Christians all over the world. I know, and believe, that the celebration is symbolic, that in fact Jesus Christ was not born on the 25th of December at all. I know that the history of celebration on this day probably has more to do with the Pagan mid-winter festival, but whether this is true or not is irrelevant. Christianity has adopted this time and celebration, and from a traditional cultural perspective, conducted this ritual as a time for reflection upon faith, and for family, fun, holidays and caring for others. Sure, it’s commercialized. But if it takes commercialization to get people to consider their spirituality and young men to spend 30 minutes thinking about their Mums and – what on earth they can get her for Christmas- so be it. Perhaps it is the one time of the year, where we all routinely spend wishes, time and money on someone other than ourselves. So, bring it on!
And on that note, some recent research on gift giving, by Elizabeth Dunn, in 2009 and 2011 suggests people who spend money on others are often happier than those who spend money on themselves. Perhaps instead of expecting thanks from the recipient of a gift, we should be thanking them! It seems that gift giving creates and reinforces emotional bonds. The smaller and more frequent gift givers seem to have better outcomes too. It seems that the thinking involved in gift giving is the valuable bit. I know that when my daughter has sewn me a truly awful potholder for instance, that she has not only spent time considering fabrics and design, but has put aside part of her day, even when she is not with me, to THINK about me. Wow. I’ll love that potholder. Being thought about, when I am not present, gives me a sense of immortality. I can be reassured that even if I am no longer alive, I can still be influencing someone’s world. I will still have mattered.
Alright, enough philosophy. Enjoy the rituals of Christmas, whatever yours may be, give much in small doses, and most of all know you matter! Have a Merry Christmas. May peace, and joy, and love, fill your days.