Find Peace this Christmas… How many times have you heard people say something along the lines of, “What a year it’s been?” And yet, never in living memory has there been a year quite like 2020. As the Christmas season permeates through our lives this year, it feels different than usual. Yes, there are the usual tasks that demand our attention: gift buying, decorating our homes, cooking and baking galore, writing Christmas cards… But this year, we don’t have the usual activities like Christmas parties, or Nativity plays, going to the theatre or a pantomime, bustling around crammed stores in search of that perfect gift for so-and-so. And yet, despite the pairing down of traditional Christmas activity, can we really say we are approaching this Christmas with a feeling of Peace?
In the uniqueness of this year, it is more important than ever to actively be seeking and finding peace this Christmas and to ensure that we share that peace with those around us.
Find Peace: stop and smell the gingerbread!
Ever heard the phrase “Stop and smell the daisies”? Well, I’m Christmasifying it to “Stop and smell the gingerbread”! Regardless of what your smelling, the sentiment rings true! In order to really appreciate anything, you have to stop long enough to enjoy it. This year, 2020, many of us have had ample opportunity to stop and slow down. We’ve had no choice! Our usual manic routines were swept away on a tide of enforced lockdown and restrictions, and yet for many, seeing the silver lining was difficult. Stopping to appreciate the unusual opportunities afforded to us by this ‘extra time’ were overruled by fear, panic, or unprofitability. Christmas can be a bit like that. We can be so overwhelmed by all that ‘needs to be done’ that we get to the other side and forgot to stop and ‘smell the gingerbread’.
Embrace the peace
Welcome the uniqueness of Christmas 2020. Embrace the peace that has been set aside for you, through the most difficult of circumstances. But in order to find that peace at Christmas, you need to accept your limitations. Work within manageable parameters and you will be on your way to finding that peace. Don’t laden yourself with the expectations of others, or think that you need to pull something extra special out of the bag to make up for what you can’t have or do. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and peace for all, not just some! So instead of trying to fill in the gaps that Covid has created this year, embrace the peace they afford and make some special time either for yourself or with your family bubble.
Prioritise for peace
If you’re going to find peace you need to prioritise. Decide what is most important to you at Christmas and make time for it. Everyone spends Christmas a little differently, but there are some traditions that override everything else, so make a point of trimming down the fluff, and focussing on what is important to you. For me, Christmas is always a time to focus on its true meaning. Remembering the birth of Jesus and spending time with loved ones is a must for me. There’s something so peaceful about Christmas Eve for me. Something so haunting and still that always brings me back to the wonder and humility of that first Christmas. I always make time to watch “The Nativity Story“ to help me focus, and it’s always spent with family.
Divide and conquer
The other thing to remember is that you are not God! Although Christmas, for many, is a time to be still and focus on that First Christmas, you don’t have to become or embody God yourself! It’s impossible! Spread your tasks out, break them up, and divvy them out to those around you. Why should one person bear the brunt of the season themselves? Even if you have little children, think of small tasks that they can manage with little supervision that keeps everyone involved. If Christmas is the season of giving and goodwill to all, then start it in the home! Make a list if you find that useful, tick things off, offer small rewards if you like (yourself included), and make lighter the load this season can inflict!
Find Peace in the Darkness… Find Peace this Christmas
As I’ve already mentioned, Christmas 2020 is a unique one. We’re not able to do all of the usual things we might ordinarily. We are inside our homes more, and interacting with people less. One of the ways you can find peace in yourself, and also bring peace to another is by seeking ways to reach out. Give to the food bank. Make up a shoebox gift for a needy child. Make up a casserole for a lonely neighbour. Wrap a gift for someone you know who is alone this Christmas. Whatever you do, try to reach out to those less fortunate around you this Christmas. It’s been such a difficult year for so many, and for those who find Christmas difficult without a global pandemic inflicting further restrictions and isolations on them, this year will be extra hard.
Be the light in the dark: bring peace!
Christmas is a time to reach out, to give, and bring peace. It’s not about the glitz and excess. It’s not about the expense or the stress. Christmas is a time of year to stop, slow down, appreciate what you have, and bring a moment of peace into your life and into the lives of others. Therefore, I encourage you this year, actively seek your own peace, whether through the birth of peace and hope in the Christmas Story, or through your own traditions, and then go out into the world and spread it about! Don’t let the pandemic be the only contagious thing this year. We need to help others find peace by spreading about our own with gentle and joyful abandon this Christmas season! Be the light in the dark for someone this year. Bring them the gift of peace!