How Do You Feel About This Christmas This Year?

Are you looking forward to Christmas this year? It seems that for many of us the thought of something bright and festive to look forward to offers a beacon of hope and optimism.

No-one has been untouched by the global pandemic and many have been affected by serious health, loss or financial considerations. So, the thought of comfortable familiar touches and a home that’s bright and Christmassy provides a definite feel-good factor.

Yes, there are people who have thrived, even seen their businesses boom, but the downbeat mood across the world has cast major shadows. We’ve had time to reflect on what’s really important in our lives and for many we’re realised that it’s the relationships with those closest to us that are the most important thing in their lives.

Nine out of ten people who’ve worked from home have said they want to continue doing so. Putting less emphasis on power-dressing, status and impressive spending and instead being at home, dressing more casually and mostly working their own hours to suit have become more important for many.

After so much time spent in lockdown, being constrained and restricted for much of the year, the thought of celebrating true family values at Christmas offers something to look forward to, a time to spend with loved ones, to appreciate our home, family and friends, even if it’s via online communication.

These months in lockdown have demonstrated that money and expensive gifts aren’t love, even though it may have felt like it in previous years when there was a spending frenzy to buy the latest toys, devices and all the items the children said they wanted. Those times when we spent money we could ill afford to compensate for working long hours, being a single parent or trying to invest everything into making that time special. Some families became so indebted that they needed up to three years to pay it back.

Lockdown has reinforced many family bonds and values, shown us that home, relationships and time in nature are what truly matter. So, this Christmas, even if we’re ‘just’ exchanging homemade cards and inexpensive gifts, or maybe because of that, the true spirit of Christmas will be especially evident. And, what’s lovelier than receiving a card that’s been made with you in mind. Or a jar of preserves, a homemade cake, a knitted scarf. All these things that have been made, given and received with selflessness and love.

Thoughtful gestures make all the difference too. When someone gives you a Christmas present that will really benefit you, perhaps a voucher for babysitting, an offer to cook dinner, to help in the garden or with decorating, tuition in a foreign language or in playing the guitar you know that it’s been given with some thought. Far more relevant to you than an expensive fragrance picked up in a department store.

Gifts for our partner may also be extra thoughtful this year. When a loved one gives us a compilation of ‘our’ special music, a scrapbook of our time together told through tickets, souvenirs and mementoes or a special photo gallery then we can feel especially loved and cared for.

After the year we’ve had many of us have come to realise what’s really important. We’ve recognised how much of what we’ve previously strived for is no longer as important to us as it once was. We don’t need all the trappings and may not care to spend money on things that are now seen as wasteful or which require excessive expense. Especially when previous Christmases have seen many families overspend so much that it’s caused them serious anxiety and hardship.

So, Christmas this year can be a time to celebrate our homes, families and friends and make for a festive, comfortable and welcoming holiday. We can take some inspiration from US Thanksgiving, a time when more families travel home to celebrate together over a family meal and yet no gifts are exchanged.

I may be wrong, but this year I’m guessing that many of us will be keen to display our Christmas decorations and trees with gusto! Let’s celebrate the true meaning of Christmas!

Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.

She’s author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ’101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.

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10 Shopping Days to Christmas

Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays on the planet.

And, with just 10 Christmas shopping days left, we can make this a festive holiday season without spending a fortune, giving to everyone and doing it all!

A simple quote that sums it up very nicely:

As we give presents at Christmas, we need to recognize that sharing our time and ourselves is such an important part of giving.

Gordon B. Hinckley

Here are four simple tips to manage your stress this holiday season:

1. Plan your budget. And it’s not too late to trim your list with just 10 shopping days left. If necessary tell people that you are cutting back on gift giving this year. To your surprise, they’ll understand and most likely feel relieved! Most of us have too many ‘things’ in our lives anyway.

They’d likely be happier if they knew you were giving a gift to a local charity.

Barrie Christmas Cheer Helps families in Barrie, Innisfil, Alliston, Oro-Medonte, Angus and other surrounding communities in South Simcoe County.

2. Make time for others – your relationships with others is the greatest gift of all and provides timeless and priceless memories. Cherish those moments! Planning a party – do the shopping with a helper and catch up while you plan the event.

Christmas is a time for everyone to give, not just you.

3. Engaging family members in helping with the chores could mean all the difference between you enjoying Christmas or simply enduring it. Baking, cooking, preparing and decorating for your festival celebration is another opportunity to multi-task. Take advantage of this situation where you can catch up with friends and loved ones. Play some Christmas music, chat, laugh and catch up. Many hands make work light and lots of fun.

4. Take time for yourself. Make time for quiet, relaxing activities. Going to the spa is wonderful but a long hot soak listening to your favourite music or just enjoying some peace and quiet could also help to regenerate your soul. It’s even okay to disconnect from technology. Cell phones and computers have off buttons. Say no to the distractions. If it’s really necessary for someone to connect with you they will call on a land line or drop in.

Keeping things simple, spending time with friends and loved ones and asking for help can make this Christmas truly a celebration to remember.

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It Was a Shoofly Pie Moment

During holiday seasons, I enjoy indulging in special food. My favorite during this time of year is the Shoofly Pie. Nothing hits the spot quite like this.

Although the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage restricts this kind of culinary activity during the rest of the year, I tried to get a pass for it during the holidays. I don’t care what holiday it is, a holiday is a holiday and deserves special food.

I don’t remember when I had my first shoofly pie, I only focus on my next piece.

When I first brought it into the home, my wife asked me what in the world it was. I told her it was a Shoofly Pie..

Looking at me rather quizzically, she said, “What is a Shoofly Pie??”

Not even thinking about it, I smiled and replied, “It is a piece of heaven this side of heaven.”

Then she wanted to know where in the world that name “Shoofly Pie” came from.

Not really knowing, I “baked up” a story I thought would please her.

The story went something like this. A lady in Pennsylvania was trying to make a special pie for her husband. It took her several days to figure out how she would make this special pie. Finally, she came up with something she had never seen before.

When presented to her husband, he was dumbfounded and said, “What is that pie?”

Before she could answer, a fly seemed to hover over the pie, and she swatted it and said, “shoofly.” The husband looked at her and said, “That is marvelous. Whoever heard of a shoofly pie? You’re a genius.”

And thus, the Shoofly Pie adventure began. Whether that comes near the story or not, it sounded good to me at the time, and I presented it to my wife.

Where we live, it’s tough to find any Shoofly Pie. Typically, I have to order it from someplace up north.

Once we were at a nearby restaurant, I talked to the waitress about the Shoofly Pie of which she had never heard. My wife had the recipe, so we shared it with her. She wanted to surprise us with a homemade Shoofly Pie.

When she gave it to us, it was nothing like a real Shoofly Pie. We joyfully took it, but it really wasn’t the real thing.

As I was thinking about this shoofly pie mystery, I thought of how this concept would work in other aspects of life.

For example. I would like to develop a Shoo-Politician Pie. Perhaps this would be a great experience for us. Every time we see a politician, we present him with a Shoo-Politician Pie. How much greater our life would be if politicians would not be the center focus of our life.

When a politician gives a speech, he or she will be charged one dollar per word. After all, one dollar isn’t much and neither is there speech. Of course, this would need to be paid upfront. As soon as the politician reaches the end of his word count, everybody would say, “Shoo-Politician.”

I think this would bring a lot of sanity back to our country today.

Then I thought of another pie to develop. I’ll call this the Shoo-Telemarketer Pie. This is second only to politicians.

To date, I have received over 1 million calls that said, “This is the last call you’ll get to renew your car warranty.”

I have searched my dictionary to discover what the definition of “last call” is. I guess it has a different meaning to different people. Even my wife agrees with me on this. And you know, that’s a monumental achievement.

I don’t know why they call them telemarketers, but I sure would like to tell them a thing or two.

Another pie I would like to develop would be the Shoo-Grumpy Pie. I have found so many grumpy people lately. I’m not sure where they come from and I’m not quite sure where they’re going, but I do have my guesses.

I cannot identify with grumpy people because I’m not quite sure why they’re grumpy. The thing I have noticed lately is, grumpy is not a matter of age. There are grumpy people of all ages. I’m not quite sure how this began.

If anybody has the right to be grumpy, it’s someone like me who has to listen to those people who are grumpy.

How much happier this world would be if there were no grumpy people in it? I know there are grumpy moments, but that shouldn’t be forever. Nothing is more frustrating than standing in line at the cash register behind some old grumpy customer exhibiting grumpy-itis. I wonder if it’s contagious?

Thinking about this, my list is getting longer and longer. There are so many things that I would like to Shoo from my life that I probably need to go into the “Shoo Pie Baking Business.”

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