@robjcameron

Bah Humbug

Over the past few years, unfortunately, got a bit of a reputation for being a Bah Humbug person when it came to Christmas. That was not always the case, in fact, for many years Christmas was a time of the year that I really enjoyed and looked forward to.
 
I suppose my initial steps into the world of Bah Humbug came when I started to notice how each year the Christmas advertising, the Christmas decorations and Christmas stock started to arrive in the high street earlier and earlier. The ever-increasing commercialisation of what I held to be a magical time of year. In fact this year, I was in a restaurant in June and they had their Christmas season flyers out on a table with some decorations. June! For F* sake!
 
And then came the (growing) trend of Christmas lights and decorations going up earlier and earlier each year, this year’s first observation for me was November 6th… almost two months before Christmas Day.
 
Now, I am not arguing that people should or shouldn’t put their decorations up or when. That is their choice and their freedom to do so whenever they wish to.
 
It is just for me, that part of the magic of Christmas was the anticipation and specialness of the short period of time it covered.
 
In our house, when I grew up, the tree and decorations never went up before the 20th and often not until Christmas Eve (the first day of Christmas) and were always down by 6th January (Epiphany).
 
For me, these extended periods of focus and selling Christmas lead to overexposure and taking away what I sense was the magic of it.
 
But…
 
No, despite my dislike of the ever increasing periods of advertising, selling and seeing decorations up, that is not the main reason I became so Bah Humbug…
 
I used to love nothing more than seeing the excitement of my daughter’s face on Christmas morning as she woke up and saw her presents. The excitement and joy as she opened her presents and saw what Father Christmas had brought for her. Magical and special moments.
 
Sadly, when my marriage broke down and I moved out, I no longer got to see my daughter when she woke on Christmas morning and that is something that I have not been able to experience for 5 years. And in that 5 years, my daughter has now grown into a beautiful young woman and that childlike excitement and naivety is something I will not witness again.
 
What I notice, as Christmas approaches, is the sense of sadness or perhaps grief that wells up of those ‘lost’ years, those experiences missed that catches me unawares at times.
 
These sensations heightened by the messages in media, advertising and programs of family Christmases, of time with loved ones and more. These things that can put expectation and pressure on people.
 
I am grateful and fortunate, though, to have experienced those beautiful times and to have developed the skills to become aware of and to deal with the less helpful emotions that creep up on me occasionally. The skills to bring myself, my feelings and my thinking back to the present and to enjoying the moment for what it is.
 
I know I cannot undo what happened in the past, I cannot change what has happened or reclaim the experiences that I have missed.
 
I know that what I can do is be present, enjoy now for what it is, cherish the time I get with my daughter now and show up as the best version of me.
 
It is a journey I am on, a skill I am honing. It is not a completed work or a destination that I have reached. It is a skill that I am developing and refining to bring me back out of the emotions quicker, easier and with grace.
 
Living in the past, mulling over what might or might not have been had I made different decisions does not serve me. That type of thinking does not serve anyone. It leads to sadness and depression. And sadly, that is something I see in far too many people.
 
My invitation to you, if you recognize any of those things I have noted here, is to become aware of the thoughts and feelings that are present and ask do I want this? If your answer is no, then ask yourself what do I want instead? From there identify one or two simple things that will start to take you away from the emotions to where you’d rather be instead.