I felt the first pangs of anxiety about Christmas a few weeks ago. I think I just start to feel the madness of the Christmas rush in the air. A few adverts on YouTube. Shelves brimming with Santa-shaped chocolate in the supermarket aisles. Window displays filled with Christmas lights, reindeer and baubles.
With each passing year, I have less and less energy for this version of Christmas. The version of Christmas that seems to be all about adverts and purchasing and consuming and sales and speed. Yet as much as I don’t value these things, I find myself feeling some pressure to live up to a perceived expectation around gift-giving at this time of year.
As I shared the rising anxiety I was feeling with Ben, we made a decision that this year we would write a list of all the people we would like to gift gifts to and then we would think of something we could make for each of those people. This way, we’d be living into our values. We’d be offering gifts (which we both love and want to do), but we wouldn’t be spending money we don’t have out of a sense of obligation. We’d enjoy pouring love and attention into each gift, making the giving of them feel more meaningful to us. And we wouldn’t have to spend time amongst crowds of frenzied people in town.
As soon as we’d decided that this is what we would do and that we would do it together, I felt a huge sense of relief. And after the relief came a feeling of genuine excitement. Excitement both for the challenge of making lovely things without spending much money and the process of creating the gifts themselves.
I haven’t felt this kind of real excitement and happiness for this season for a long time. For too long it has felt like a burden to endure and get past rather than a season to bask and delight in.
We haven’t written our list yet but I already have some ideas. For instance, I know I have a big jar of seville orange segments in the pantry for making marmalade. I have some lovely multi-coloured cotton yarn that I use for making dishcloths which I think would make lovely gifts. Ben has a whittling book with lots of simple projects and I have a whittling knife so perhaps we can carve some Christmas decorations or a wooden whistle. Small baked gifts are always well received. I’m sure with a little thought, creativity and time, we will come up with some beautiful ideas that will be enjoyable for us to create and enjoyable for others to receive.
I can sense how my journey with this time of year is going to continue to evolve over the years to come but for now this feels like a huge step forward in reclaiming my joy for this season and I am so grateful for that.
I have no doubt many of you reading this are accomplished makers of things. I would love to hear about your own ideas for Christmas gift-making. Maybe we could make a really long list of wonderful ideas. Leave me a comment below with your own ideas.
Love and courage,