Tag Archives: Christmas

Preparing for Christmas: Be Still

Christmas is almost upon us. Whilst most of us look forward to this day, the period leading up to it can also be very stressful to some.   If you are from a large family, you may have lots of presents to buy.  For me, I had to start getting presents ready and cards made (card-making is one of the few creative outlets I have and is very therapeutic) a month ahead of time just so I can get to the post office and make sure everything is shipped to my overseas friends in time (at the time of writing, it would appear that three weeks before Christmas might still not be enough time!).

Usually this time of the year is also a time when many companies wind down and take a breather after a busy year.  For me, I have been working on a project that is scheduled to be implemented in early February, which means that, in fact, the majority of our work had to be completed just before Christmas.  So, instead of being able to take it easy, my team and I have been busier than ever, especially since most of the team will be on leave for the holiday season.

Whatever news reports may say of the retail sector suffering what with the economy being slow and people not being able to afford the indulgences of years pre-GFC, the shops are still busy and popular gifts are sold out.  Everywhere I go, there are still people rushing into the shops and lining up at the cash registers.  No doubt the madness will ramp up even more on Christmas Eve as people rush out to get those last-minute gifts for unexpected visitors or just because they had been too busy to do their shopping any earlier.

It reminds me of the very first record (yes, I am talking vinyl here) I owned – the Chipmunks’ Christmas.  On the record, there was a song where last-minute shoppers are rushing to buy toys for their kids and complaining that they didn’t come with batteries.  Amidst the madness was a poor mother who could not afford the harmonica that her sick son coveted. In the end, Alvin realised that he didn’t need the golden harmonica he so wanted and gave it to the sick boy instead.

Some call this the “silly season”.  As a practicing Catholic, this is quite contrary to the importance of the occasion – the birth of Christ, our Saviour.  Even if you are not Catholic or Christian, perhaps it is apt, in all your rush and madness, to take the time out and be still.  Reflect on the year past; reflect on all that you have and forget about all that you don’t.  On Christmas day, when it starts getting stressful about guests visiting or worrying about burning the turkey or not having enough food for all, or the dishwasher breaking down, take a deep breath and be still for a moment.  If you are lucky enough to be able to afford it, bask in the joy of gift-giving.  Be grateful for all the gifts that you receive.  Count your blessings and enjoy the day.

Merry Christmas xox

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Enjoying the Sound of Silence

Shhh!

Why is it that we must always surround ourselves with noise? Whether it be music or television, it seems we are never truly comfortable unless we have noise around us.  Are you one of those people who instinctively turn on the television (or music) as soon as you get home, not because there is a particular program you want to watch, but just out of habit so there’s some noise in the house?  I don’t know many people who know how to enjoy and appreciate the silence – except perhaps parents with noisy kids and librarians.

There’s a Chinese saying that my parents used to quote whenever we complained about being too hot: when your heart is at peace, you will find coolness.  It’s not an exact quote – that’s just a literal translation.  Basically, all it means is that when you stop running around, being busy and stressed and noisy, you will find peace and stop being hot and bothered.  And to find peace, sometimes you need to have silence.

In November 2010, I went to Vietnam with a couple of friends for a holiday.  It was a wonderful experience for many reasons but one thing that absolutely stands out for me is the traffic and the noise that is part and parcel of that!  Well before my trip, I had already been warned of the traffic and how to cross the road in the city.  Dodging the millions of scooters, cars and people is an art form.  I never thought it could get noisier than Ho Chi Minh City until we got to Hanoi.  After three weeks in the country, I was so happy to be home where traffic is not nearly as crazy (although I have to admit, it was organised chaos) and where I could just sit in peace and quiet.  I did not turn on the television or any music for the rest of the evening after I arrived home.  The silence was sheer beauty!

So, in this busy holiday season, when your heart is full of cheer and goodwill towards mankind (assuming you haven’t beaten up the old lady next to you with your purse in the Boxing Day sales), I would highly recommend you take some time to sit back, relax with a cup of tea or hot chocolate, tune out all the external noise and just listen – to the sounds of birds chirping outside your window, to the rustling of the leaves, or in my case, to the sound of the filter in the fish tank.  Recharge your batteries and get ready to face the busy-ness again!

What Does Christmas Mean To You?

In just a couple more weeks, it will be Christmas again.  It seems like only yesterday that I was coming home from my travels to Vietnam and Hong Kong last year and getting excited about this special season.  But time does not stand still and yes, it is time for the Santa suits to be taken out of storage and dusted off.  I make no apologies for saying that Santa Claus does not exist.  Neither does the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy.

Here’s a multiple choice for you: Christmas – ’tis the season to be

  1. jolly
  2. grumpy

I have heard many people call this the “silly season”.  I suppose it is, in part, due to the incredible lengths some people go to in order to buy gifts for friends and loved ones, and in part due to all the partying and extravagance of the occasion.

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