By Susan Leigh
Are you looking forward to Christmas this year? It seems that for many of us the thought of something bright and festive to look forward to offers a beacon of hope and optimism.
No-one has been untouched by the global pandemic and many have been affected by serious health, loss or financial considerations. So, the thought of comfortable familiar touches and a home that’s bright and Christmassy provides a definite feel-good factor.
Yes, there are people who have thrived, even seen their businesses boom, but the downbeat mood across the world has cast major shadows. We’ve had time to reflect on what’s really important in our lives and for many we’re realised that it’s the relationships with those closest to us that are the most important thing in their lives.
Nine out of ten people who’ve worked from home have said they want to continue doing so. Putting less emphasis on power-dressing, status and impressive spending and instead of being at home, dressing more casually and mostly working their own hours to suit have become more important for many.
After so much time spent in lockdown, being constrained and restricted for much of the year, the thought of celebrating true family values at Christmas offers something to look forward to, a time to spend with loved ones, to appreciate our home, family and friends, even if it’s via online communication.
These months in lockdown have demonstrated that money and expensive gifts aren’t love, even though it may have felt like it in previous years when there was a spending frenzy to buy the latest toys, devices and all the items the children said they wanted. Those times when we spent money we could ill afford to compensate for working long hours, being a single parent or trying to invest everything into making that time special. Some families became so indebted that they needed up to three years to pay it back.
Lockdown has reinforced many family bonds and values, shown us that home, relationships and time in nature are what truly matter. So, this Christmas, even if we’re ‘just’ exchanging homemade cards and inexpensive gifts, or maybe because of that, the true spirit of Christmas will be especially evident. And, what’s lovelier than receiving a card that’s been made with you in mind. Or a jar of preserves, a homemade cake, a knitted scarf. All these things that have been made, given and received with selflessness and love.
Thoughtful gestures make all the difference too. When someone gives you a Christmas present that will really benefit you, perhaps a voucher for babysitting, an offer to cook dinner, to help in the garden or with decorating, tuition in a foreign language or in playing the guitar you know that it’s been given with some thought. Far more relevant to you than an expensive fragrance picked up in a department store.
Gifts for our partner may also be extra thoughtful this year. When a loved one gives us a compilation of ‘our’ special music, a scrapbook of our time together told through tickets, souvenirs and mementoes or a special photo gallery then we can feel especially loved and cared for.
After the year we’ve had many of us have come to realise what’s really important. We’ve recognised how much of what we’ve previously strived for is no longer as important to us as it once was. We don’t need all the trappings and may not care to spend money on things that are now seen as wasteful or which require excessive expense. Especially when previous Christmases have seen many families overspend so much that it’s caused them serious anxiety and hardship.
So, Christmas this year can be a time to celebrate our homes, families and friends and make for a festive, comfortable and welcoming holiday. We can take some inspiration from US Thanksgiving, a time when more families travel home to celebrate together over a family meal and yet no gifts are exchanged.
I may be wrong, but this year I’m guessing that many of us will be keen to display our Christmas decorations and trees with gusto! Let’s celebrate the true meaning of Christmas!