Sunday, 16 December 2012

the gifts that keep on giving

I don't have any memories of writing one of those Christmas lists children are encouraged to compile of the things they want under the tree. I'm sure I probably did pen such a list; I certainly remember family members asking me what I wanted and there was no shortage of ideas! I still hugely enjoy the exchanging of gifts at Christmas. I also love the lights, the food, the general feeling of goodwill and the strangers greeting each other with particular enthusiasm in the cheery settings of our snowy English towns. I've never been one of the 'bah humbug' crowd and, even though I see Yule and Christmas as very different occasions for different kinds of contemplation and mood, there is a warm, fuzzy place in my heart for the 25th of December. Nowadays, as an adult, I have no such list of material things I'm hoping for. Things have changed a lot since childhood. Now, I'm the one asking my five year old nephew what he'd like to receive. (Their tastes and interests change so quickly at that age!) For a very long time I've considered the fact that the things we really want in our lives are not on the other side of some pretty wrapping. Sometimes materialism can be used to fill the void made by that yearning we feel for the things that aren't on the shelves in retail outlets.

Consider for a moment what it is that you really want at this time in your life.What are your hopes for the coming year and what kind of gift would it take to get you started on that road? The non-material things we desire are often gifts we can offer to ourselves. It might take diligent effort and careful consideration, but we can always manage to give ourselves a little something to unwrap - metaphorically speaking. I, for one, have a few ideas. I'd like to give myself the gift of encouragement. I want to flourish in 2013. I want to write, to teach and to retrain, so I'm going to need to be able to cheer myself on and see my challenges as opportunities. I also plan to give myself the gift of inspiration. Constant and potent inspiration. This is an essential component of my well-being, too often put to one side as I deal with various dilemmas and, like most of other people, procrastination sometimes comes to visit. Offering myself new ways of approaching my creative pursuits and new perspectives on life is going to be at the top of the list and those are the kind of gifts that last a long time - you get your money's worth. I'm also wrapping nature up in a big pink bow and offering myself its abundance and wonderment. Long country walks, as well as my deep appreciation for urban sprawl, is going to feature in my Christmas gift haul, because it enriches my soul and I know it. 

If you're reading this and considering your own desired gifts, don't be disheartened if you feel that they're out of reach or that you need other people to provide them for you. You don't. If you want a healthy, happy relationship under your Christmas tree and the relationship you have doesn't tick that box, the gift you're thinking of may need to change. You can only be accountable for *your* actions. So, if you're working on your love life and your partner isn't pulling their weight, your gift might need to change into the gift of self-love. Knowing when something isn't working and having the regard for yourself to walk away from it is a gift more beautiful than anything you can pick up in a department store. If you feel that you need the gift of money to facilitate a new avenue in 2013, don't wait for someone else to give or to win the lottery. Begin offering yourself this gift now by planning to save your money, spend it wisely and ensure that you have something to put in a piggy bank at the end of each month. You are in control of what you receive when it comes to gifts centred around personal development. For some of you, the gifts may be a little unsettling. A serious reality check is one that springs to mind for me in past years. The gift of understanding who my real friends are really featured last year and, although it was a tough gift at the time (rather like the fables about Santa giving naughty children coal), I now regard it as a blessing. A gift I'll always appreciate.

Think about it.

Christmas wishes to you all.