Mindful Monday – “Have Yourself a Mindful Little Christmas”

In my weekly feature called, “Mindful Monday,” I like to share my journey on the road to becoming more ‘mindful.’  This encompasses the act of being watchful, aware, wary, heedful, alert, careful, or attentive, in whatever area in my life I feel it applies to.

Welcome to Mindful Monday. I’m happy to see you.

Hello, and welcome to another week on Mindful Monday. Are you busy with the holiday season? Are you running around frazzled trying to have the “perfect” holiday for you and your family?

christmas-shopping

As many of you know, as a Buddhist, I don’t celebrate Christmas, even though I was raised with the tradition. However, Christmas was a strange event in the home I was raised in. For me, Christmas was, and still is a Christian tradition. As a child, the holiday I knew, was about attending church services, singing in the choir, and having dinner with my stepmother’s grandmother and her father in law from her first marriage. I did not grow up with my siblings who were many years older than me, and I did not see them until I was a teenager. It was an unusual existence.

My step mother did not have children, and she did not like them – myself included. One year, after the novelty of having a stepdaughter wore off, my stepmother changed my perception of the holidays which has colored my entire life’s attitudes about Christmas.

One year, there simply was no Christmas. The tree was decorated (only by my stepmother) and stood at its place of honor in front of the living room window. Yes, there were presents wrapped and placed under the tree. Instead of a holiday celebration, my father and stepmother had a terrible fight. I hid in my bedroom, as usual, eavesdropping as children usually do. I believe I was ten years old at the time.

The fight raged for hours, and I knew once they started, it would not quit anytime soon. Eventually, I remember going to bed and falling asleep. When I awakened in the morning nothing was said about Christmas. The presents were gone, having vanished into the night. I never did find out what happened to them and never asked. Children were seen and not heard at my stepmother’s house.

I remember returning to school after the holiday and listening to everyone talk about what they got for Christmas. I never said a word. Instead, I buried that pain deep inside, never wanting to deal with those feelings of rejection from my parents. From then on, Christmas was stressful. I always waited for the same thing to happen again. It didn’t, but for holiday seasons for years to come; I tip-toed around afraid to know if there would be a Christmas or not.

Years later, when I had my children, the memory of that one Christmas still haunted me. I celebrated Christmas with my kids the best I could, but I was always uncomfortable with the custom. I did succeed in making Christmas a joyful event for them. We didn’t have much, but we had many fun traditions, like baking and decorating cookies, playing games together, and just living in the moment of that time together. We always had a Christmas tree and as many presents as we could afford. In fact, I don’t know that any of our five children even know this story from my past. Maybe I should have told them. Our blended family lives all over the United States, and we haven’t celebrated a holiday together in many years…

Here is the crux of my story. Christmas is not about presents or the things you get from friends and family. It is not about sacrificing your peace of mind while trying to make the perfect day for your family. It is not about Christmas trees, decorations, or any of the countless other ways we have of spending money to celebrate this day.

Christmas is about living in the moment and enjoying each other’s company. It is about traditions and the celebration of family. It is also about reflecting on the year that you and your family just soldiered your way through. It is a celebration of your triumphs and the acknowledgment of gratitude for your life.

It is also about letting go of old traditions and starting anew…

So, Ron and I have decided to start a new tradition. Instead of Christmas, we are going to celebrate the Winter Solstice (The Yule, or wheel) on December 21st, much like our ancestors of old, where fires were lit to represent the life-giving forces of the returning sun. The imagery of “the wheel” fits perfectly with the precept of the Buddhist Wheel of Life and our beliefs.

We will honor the new solar year with light, candles to be exact. My plan is to do a Solstice Eve ceremony where I meditate in darkness followed by the lighting of a single candle to represent the birth of the new sun, expressing our hope in the future. We don’t have an indoor or outdoor fireplace where we can burn a Yule log, but I am going to improvise with pine scented incense.

Image credit: Pixabay.com

My thoughts will center on letting go of that old pain from that Christmas long ago. It is time to cut those threads that have bound me to that bit of suffering I couldn’t seem to let go of. In my meditation, I want to visualize that pain tied up in a knot. Slowly, my plan is to mentally unravel those tangled threads so they can float away into the nothingness, and be gone. It is time to start anew. Ron and I have each other, and we are our family.

After my meditation and later in the day, we plan on celebrating by feasting on a fabulous dinner of baked bread and a delicious and wholesome beef stew. I am making a celebratory red velvet cake with peppermint frosting for dessert. There will be many toasts to the new solar year. This is a time of renewal and for recognizing the blessings of the new year to come. It will be about us spending time together and enjoying the fact we are alive and together.

Yet, I don’t want to lose sight of what Christmas means for everyone else. So here are my suggestions for living mindfully on Christmas day:

Relax and slow down. Pay attention to your breath. Focus on your conversations and put your cell phones, tablets, and computers away. When it comes time to enjoy your dinner, sit together as a family. Take your time as you eat and savor each moment. Think about what is vital to you on this day. Stop worrying about things out of your control. Live in the moment and enjoy. Let the love of your family wrap you in a joyful embrace.

Remember, this is not a challenge.  This is an offering of support.  If you would like to join in with your own Mindful Monday goals, you can do so in the comments, or on a separate post of your own making.  If you want to link back to my post, please feel free to do so, however, it is not necessary.  My main aim here is to give and get support to become more mindful of the things I take for granted in my life. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

Namaste. What are your mindful goals for this week?


Peace and joy to you all during this holiday season. ❤

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “Mindful Monday – “Have Yourself a Mindful Little Christmas”

  1. Wishing you peace and joy at the solstice and every day. My plan is to take time to reflect about the past year and the dear and so not dear people who have left this realm and work on extending loving kindness to the not so dear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is beautiful, Bernadette. I wonder if it is a normal thing to do when we get older… reflect on people and such? I know one thing, I am going to be myself. I am tired of trying to please folks who really don’t return the favor. It wears a person down. Have a marvelous holiday, my friend. ❤

      Like

  2. Beautiful tradition – we may follow suit. My heart broke for the 10-year-old Colleen, but you’re right, it’s time to say good-bye to that memory. I plan on visiting friends and family over my birthday/Christmas weekend and bringing them the happy treats from my childhood. This year I made a book for all of my family and shared family recipes and the happy memories from our childhood that wasn’t always happy. Whether my family appreciates it or not, it doesn’t matter. It helped me wipe out some of the less than happy memories of my early years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pat, this is such a neat idea – your book of recipes. I wonder if that is part of growing older, our reflection back on the things that caused pain and shaped us into who we are today? We are retired military and have lost track of so many friends. Out of our five kids, we have one who still talks to us. I have many things to let go of that cause me pain. I spent so much time trying to keep peace and hold it all together that I neglected me. Now, it’s time to let some of that go. It is holding me back. LOL! Thank goodness for my writing. That has helped to resolve many of these issues. Have a marvelous holiday. I wish us all much peace and joy in the coming year. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. LOVE ❤ I am finding less and less joy with what my upbringing has taught me about Christmas and all that it entails. This loving, mindful post has reminded me of my own Buddhist energy, much of which I have taken for granted. All that time studying to enter the monastery brought me such peace. time to create my own monastery here in my present life, eh? Happy Solstice to you and Ron! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I had no idea you had traveled that far in your journey. I am just a novice feeling my way through old memories that need to go away. I do believe in this life I was to learn the lesson of “attachment.” Never having a normal family as a child left its mark but it doesn’t have to define me. I spent so many years raising kids and working that I neglected me. Now, is the time to change that. The more I learn about you my dear friend, the more I know we were brought together to learn from each other. Your comments mean the world to me. Happy Solstice! ❤ I will be up early Wednesday morning meditating and watching that glorious sun rise!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing that, Colleen. I don’t know if I’m up to writing anything along those lines. I thoroughly approve of you taking more time for you and cutting out the people who take but give little back. Physically, I feel worn out and just can’t face doing what the children want. They are mostly old enough to have got over the present fest idea of Christmas and since they were brought up heathens they don’t even know the Christmas story. But I’m tired this year, have a pulled muscle in my neck before we even start, have bought no Christmas presents because we’re broke and I can’t face the crowds in the shops, and the idea of all that cooking wears me out. Morale is at an all time low and nothing seems worthwhile. Why bother writing if nobody reads what you write? I don’t feel like celebrating anything, just wish I had some of the wonder of the early people for the natural change of the year and the victory of day over night. Like you, we will be celebrating the solstice in a symbolic way. My sisters and cousins will be getting together, since unlike me they have the means to travel, which makes me feel completely isolated, even if I am so out of the loop I wouldn’t know what to do at a family get together anyway. Maybe 2017 will be better. This year has been a pile of shite mostly.

    Like

    1. I feel that isolation too. Out of our five children, only one stays in touch and she has her mother (my husband’s ex) living with her. It makes it difficult to spend holidays together with the two grandchildren. My other three grandchildren live with their father and I don’t hear from them. Sometimes that is all you can do – just let it go. I applaud the stand you have taken and believe me, if we lived closer we would have a rip-roaring Solstice celebration together! I always say if your family doesn’t want you, find one that does. LOL! We had some difficult years financially with our kids too. One year, we both got laid off from our jobs. I think we had $100 to spend for dinner and presents. We bought board games and had a great dinner. That is the Christmas that my kids remembered best. Sometimes less is MORE. I am sending you many hugs. You aren’t alone. Keep writing that lovely poetry. Your words speak to me. ❤

      Like

  5. Thank you for sharing this. Letting go of traumatic memories is difficult but so healing. I’m still working on letting go of the sexual abuse inflicted on me by my step father but, the more energy I put into letting it go, the better it gets. I’ve realized that it only hurts because I’ve held onto it, because, let’s face it, the past is over. It is freeing to forgive, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve to be free of the power unforgiveness holds on you. Many blessings to you!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments. My Solstice ceremony and meditation were successful. This holiday felt so right to my husband and I. It is our’s, something only we have shared together. It was liberating to realize that Christmas evoked those feelings but so liberating to let them go. Those scars we carry can fade over time if we let them. I hope you find the strength to let those past events go. In fact, we laughed about celebrating the Solstice. I guess we are Pagan Buddhist’s now! You know you are on the road to healing when you can laugh. I am sending you many Christmas hugs, my friend. Thank you for your kindness. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

I love hearing from you! <3

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s