This year has been challenging in all kinds of ways for us all. Furlough became a common word and crowded rooms a thing of the past. For some, Christmas has been a main event to look forward to – the best way to finish off this nightmare of a year. But of course, financially the UK has taken a beating and in that sense the festive time of year has also become a worry for many of us. With expensive tech growing in demand as society becomes more digital, finding gifts that don’t break the bank can be a challenge. We’ve become obsessed with how much we spend on a person rather than the meaning of what we buy. A pair of £10 earrings could ultimately mean a lot more than a handbag worth £100 depending on the recipient.
Each year, November hits and the need to find meaningful but costly presents weighs on my shoulders – and I know I’m not the only one – turning an event made for family time and gratitude into a stressful occasion. This year in particular, after a year that has taught me the value of spending time with those close to my heart, giving love without expectation and showing kindness no matter what, I’ve pondered how we’ve turned our attention to price tags over the company we spend the day with.
Presents are lovely and giving them is even more exciting, but what if this year we took time to acknowledge those we get to spend the day with – friends, family, carers or lovers. This time last year, none of us could have predicted we’d have to spend months apart from our loved ones just three months into the new year, none of us could have predicted that Zoom calls would become the closest thing to socialising for a while nor could anyone have predicted Trump would be kicked out of the White House! And sadly, many -including myself – couldn’t have predicted that they’d spend this Christmas with an empty chair at the dinner table.
There are three ways of giving at Christmas that are priceless in cost but of value to loved ones – kindness, time, and compassion. Although these are basic, perhaps daily ways we already give to those we love, we must remember the importance of all three. Of course, giving your time to somebody is something we naturally do in our careers, on social media (maybe a little too much), whilst driving along a busy road (those cars that pull out in front of you), or whilst cooking a delicious meal for family. The time we give to others is time we will never get back which is what makes it so valuable. It’s also why you should never give your time to anybody who brings nothing to the table (not in a literal sense, I won’t be bringing anything to the Christmas table other than my hungry belly!)
Tensions may be high for many at the moment, with the health emergency lurking and the other unpredictability’s that 2020 has sprung upon us. And practising kindness through this period may feel hard but could essentially be a lifeline to others, the beauty of being kind is not knowing how it could positively impact the recipient. Maybe it’s smiling at somebody (in a situation where you’re not wearing a mask of course), leaving a good review on an independent business site or making a cup of tea to lift somebody’s spirits – it works for me, at least!
Everyone has kindness in them, it’s just about focusing on how we can use this to benefit those around us or perhaps strangers that we will never meet. The more we practise kindness towards others, the more we can practise kindness to ourselves. Christmas is a cosy, colourful time of year that is loved by thousands, but equally it can be a challenging period for various reasons. Be kind to yourself above all else.
Kindness can’t exist without a whole lot of compassion. For us to choose to start up a conversation with someone who looks lonely or smile at somebody who looks upset, we will have experienced a feeling of compassion prior to the interaction. Choose to have compassion towards those who may be experiencing a challenging time right now. Listen without judgement, speak with understanding and always show compassion.
Mental health doesn’t just vanish at Christmas, focusing on our own mental health as well as checking in on friends and family still matters. It’s okay to experience numbness or low moods in December. Be open and honest with those around you and always reach out when you can.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please contact Samaritans on –
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
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Ciao for now x