The season of Advent is upon us, marking the start of four festivals of light that continue through Christmas to Ephiphany and close with Candlemas in February. Traditionally Advent is a time for reflection on the year that has just gone, to give thanks for the good and to prepare for Christmas and the year ahead. Sadly this period of much needed quiet and relection is so often lost in the modern world, drowned out by the loud voice of consumerism as adverts proclaim only x shopping days left, buy your turkey now, buy this magazine and gain the secrets to a perfect Christmas!
This year I think it's high time we took back Advent and said no thanks to the noise and the nonsense. What is the point in stressing over what to buy someone when the reality is most people already have everything they could ever want? Feeling stressed about cooking Christmas dinner? Why? It's basically exactly the same roast you cook every Sunday only on a slightly bigger scale. Just cook your turkey or other joint, take it out the oven and cover with baking parchment and 2 tea towels and leave to rest for an hour. That's your oven free for roast potatoes, parsnips and even yorkshire puddings! Just chuck everything else in a steamer and if all else fails piping hot gravy can resurect anything. Chill out - you have got this!
In this modern world 'busyness' has taken over and the one thing most of us wish we had more of is time. So let's give the gift of time this Christmas and make being truely present our goal. Put away that iphone (you really don't need to be checking your work emails!) and get your pinny on. Set aside an afternoon to make mince pies with your family, and allow yourself to be mindful, feel the cold butter as you rub it into the flour, laugh at your kids if they hurl some flour at each other, it's ok, it's 2016 we have hoovers! Snuggle up with a Christmas movie, a hot cup of tea and your yummy home made mince pies. Or wrap up warm and get out of the house letting the cool air clear away the cobwebs and bring the colour back to your cheeks.
If you're stuck for gifts why not give a voucher for a massage or a facial? Literally give the gift of time so your loved ones can stop and just be.
So let's take Advent back, let's relish putting up our decorations, remembering all those Christmases past, happy times with loved ones, the joy of finding that tin foil covered yoghurt pot bell you made when you were two that somehow is still in one piece over 20 years later. For many, Christmas can be a sad time as they remember those who are no longer with us but I prefer to think that Christmas actually brings us a little closer as that box of decorations rekindles memories, and with it their spirit around the tree.
As we start each day with the opening of a new window on the calender, let's take just a moment to think of something or someone we are thankful for this year. To reflect on the things we have done well, some things maybe not so well and what we really want to achieve in the year ahead. Above all don't get stressed, enjoy the run up to Christmas, the light shining in the darkness and that feeling of expectation as the day approaches. After all the most important thing on Christmas Day is the people that are around your tree not the presents that are under it.
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