Wasn’t it dark this morning? I had to check the clock to make sure I hadn’t got up an hour early! At 7.45 it was still dark outside, but the Christmas tree lights did look beautiful shining out from my tree and from a couple of windows up the street. I love to see Christmas lights and lots of sparkly things at this time of year.
An outstanding memory is being in Stockholm in December around 20 years ago. It was 2.30 p.m. and it was already dark. I noticed a block of flats where just about every window had a candle bridge in it. Stunning! And I’ve never forgotten it.
This time of year has long marked a special moment in the annual cycle – the longest day marking the point when for many peoples going right back to ancient times there’s the promise of rebirth – the sun, the light, the seasons. The Romans celebrated Saturnalia – a festival of indulgence and lawlessness; for Germanic and Nordic peoples it was Yule – a festival which also included feasting and drinking.In the Jewish tradition, the festival of Hannukah (known as the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication) is observed at this time of year by lighting the nine-branched menorah. And Christians marked the time by remembering the birth of their own “sun”.
Current customs seem to mix up pre-Christian and Christian traditions., but most seem to agree that it’s a time to feast, celebrate, spend time with those we love and do what we can to rekindle hope, joy and peace. However, reality these days seems to turn this time of year into a frenzy of buying, cooking and running around which mothers seem to find particularly taxing.
Did you watch “Back in time for Christmas” on BBC2 last night (a postscript to the excellent “Back in time for dinner” earlier this year). Last night’s programme looked at Christmas in the 1940s and 1950s and, apart from offering vivid flashbacks to my Granny’s kitchen and explaining why Grandma always put grated potato and carrot in the Christmas pud, it provided very contrasting views from family members about what it was like to celebrate Christmas in times gone by.
Dad thought it wasn’t bad to have a more austere Christmas; you didn’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy it. Son, aged about 11, couldn’t wait to go forward in time for better presents while Mum concluded it was a feast for Dad and the kids but she’d spent most of the day slaving in the kitchen and would be happiest when it was all over.
Times may have changed, but most women I know seem to find the end of the year particularly stressful.
Back in the ’40s and 50s, people hadn’t heard of life coaches or blogs, so I count myself lucky to have a number I can turn to for tips on how to survive the festive season as a 21st century woman! There’s Gillian Smellie of Lifecycles Growth’s “Fifteen Days to Organised… One simple tip per day and you will be the most organised and relaxed person you know….. just in time for Christmas.” There’s also a lovely thoughtful article about Advent Candles on her blog. Kate Gerry’s blog on giving yourself permission to take a break is very sound advice. and Sarah Seed has some great tips on setting boundaries in order to take care of ourselves. All useful advice at this time of year.
And my advice – Give yourself some “me” time, to dance away the stress, re-connect to what’s really important and ready to face the world again chilled and refreshed by offering savings on my Nia classes over the Christmas and New Year period. Download the flyer and come along on your own or with a friend to experience what others constantly tell me they find at a class: they move everything, yet feel relaxed not exhausted at the end, and ready to Celebrate the Light!
Have a great week.
For changes to classes over Christmas and New Year, please see the Classes and Events page.
What I’m watching
Fab video of Nia trainer Ann Christiansen in London last weekend.