Oranges and Tobogganing

Did you know that December is one of the busiest times in hospitals? Not only do more health issues occur due to overeating, or injuries as a result of shoveling snow or slipping on ice, but many of the health issues are connected to stress and family dramas. The emotions are flying high: overwhelm, anger, sadness and grief, just to mention a few, are triggered, and our emotional state affects our physical health. Sadly, one of the stress factors is gift giving itself. It can be stressful to run around getting gifts for several people and to juggle the financial expenses which can put us over budget or even into debt.

On December 13, my friend Dhebi DeWitz and I offered a free webinar to address the emotions which are triggered at this time of the year. One of the questions that came in during the holiday webinar was how to handle receiving gifts from people and having to reciprocate when your budget is limited. That was such an excellent question!

Is it possible that we have forgotten what our holiday celebrations are about? Do our children really need a pile of toys? Or do they need family members who are present, who listen well and connect from the heart? And as far as gift giving is concerned, ask yourself for a moment what the best gift is that you have ever received. For me, a few homemade and personal gifts come to mind which really stood out: a well written and thoughtful card which told me how much I meant to somebody, or something self-made.

knitting-socks

There is a whole long list of things we could come up with to create meaningful gifts: baking, knitting, crocheting, stitching, sewing, jewellery making, drawing, painting, making soaps, and so on. I received a wonderful mix of bath salts for tired feet beautifully put together in a jar from a friend this year and I know there will be more self-made presents under the tree.

Gifts neither need to be expensive, nor complicated to make. It just needs to come from the heart. One of my daughters just gave her Christmas gift to her boyfriend. It’s a jar full of Hershey kisses; to each chocolate kiss she attached a note which tells him what’s wonderful about him.

One of my clients, a beautiful and conscious young woman who was born in Russia, shared with me how they had very little back home. The grown-ups felt grateful when they had the ingredients to bake a cake and to bring oranges home. She remembers going tobogganing with her siblings and friends. Winter holidays still mean oranges and tobogganing to her.

children_on_their_sleds_in_central_park_in_new_york_city

Have we perhaps fallen prey to the idea that our holiday celebrations need to be grand and extravagant? Have we forgotten what the magic of Christmas truly means?

Three years ago, a friend of mine, who is the amazing mom of a little son, posted on Facebook about her decision not to lie to her son that Santa exists. She was struggling with the concept of tricking children into believing a mystical figure is real, basically lying to our children when we are trying to teach them to be honest. She also had trouble—and I can empathize—with the concept of calling somebody “good” or “bad”, when really there is just an undesirable behaviour the child might display. Telling the truth—and not to potentially jeopardize a trusting relationship with her son—was more important to her than to fully join in the Santa tradition. She caused an avalanche of replies, some quite heated as everybody had an opinion on this.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asking my friend how she has handled this fine balance between not lying to her son while allowing for the magic of Christmas. She shared how their experience is different: her son does not make a long list of material things he wants. There is also no threatening him to behave well, or have presents taken away. Christmas feels fun and easy to her while other parents with young kids that she knows are more stressed about struggling to get what their child asked for to keep up the Santa myth. This year, she is planning to have one gift under the tree with no name on it to make it a fun mystery for her son who the present is from.

x-mas-gifts

So what exactly causes this magical holiday feeling and where does it come from? Is that feeling of hope and belief in goodness tied to Santa and extravagant gifts? Or is it the belief that everything is possible? The exciting feeling that there is magic? The unwavering conviction that life is a fantastic adventure full of amazing surprises? The deep trust that there is Love all around?

I grew up—and with me a whole nation of Germans—never believing in Santa. Christmas was still magical and exciting. It was a time of joy and surprises, a time for family and being present with each other. I remember my parents most of the time feeling pressure to be productive—my father at work, my mother as a homemaker—except for occasions like Christmas, when they actually sat down with us. We had a big winter scene puzzle with 200 pieces we would do many years in a row, or we would play one of the two family board games we had. I still remember how good it felt to do these activities together. On December 24, the Christmas tree was finally put up—with real candles on it, no less—and there was magic alone in the lit tree.

mandarines

Germans celebrate Nikolaus Day on December 6th which goes back to the same historical figure as Santa Claus: Nikolaus von Myra, who lived at the beginning of the 4th century. On the night of December 5th, children put their polished shoes out in front of the door. The next morning they are filled with treats, with oranges, nuts and chocolates, brought by “Nikolaus”. People might jokingly say that “baby Jesus brings the presents” on December 24 but even children know this is just an expression.

My older daughter, who was five when we came to North America, never believed in Santa. She played along for the other children her age, but actually felt proud to know the truth and to be treated like an adult. Growing up in a multicultural environment made it easier to not be a Santa believer. However, she certainly completely gets what the spirit of Christmas is all about. She is one of the most giving, caring and non-materialistic people I know.

Santa is a mythical representation of a spirit we want to encourage: generous giving and love. At Christmas we can open up to feeling that Love is all around. And life IS a fantastic adventure full of amazing surprises. We can experience that excitement at any age. We are not slaves to our feelings. At any given time, we can change our perspective and decide to feel and live the magic of Christmas, simply with oranges and tobogganing, or our own personal versions thereof.

happy-holidays

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Angelika, Belief Change Coach & Workshop Facilitator

905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

The Time of Giving

This is the time of giving and, like every year at this time, most of us are balancing or even struggling to balance the gift giving.

gift giving

Each year, this strikes me as odd. Isn’t true giving, after all, just about freely parting with something without expectations of receiving anything in return? Yet, the way we have set up our busy lives and Christmas in particular, with all the get-togethers and gift “obligations,” we can easily end up all stressed out or in debt—or both—due to a celebration which in its nature is not about materialistic considerations at all. How we handle Christmas gives us a good insight into how we handle life.

Are you a person who has everything planned out by October and with self-discipline tics off one present after the next from your list? Are you a last-minute shopper? Are you the one known for giving the perfect or the best presents? Does Christmas put you in the feeling space of “not having enough” money or time? Do you end up in debt after Christmas, having to cut out every other pleasure from your life for a few months afterwards? Is this perhaps how you choose to go through life in general?

One thing I hear from clients on a regular basis is, “I don’t get as much as I give”. This is not necessarily a comment restricted to celebrations and gift giving. They are talking about prime relationships, usually their partnership. What if you find yourself always over-giving, not just at Christmas but as a general life experience?

Does giving and receiving always have to be in balance? Should we only give when we receive? Of course not. There is great joy in giving, especially when somebody needs it, independent of what we get back from that one person. When we give to one person, the way the Universe and energy works is that it will come back to us from somewhere else. What goes around, comes around, in regards to anything we do. Do I treat people with consciousness and fairness, or am I out to hurt them? Do I freely give from the heart, or do I grudgingly buy something because I feel I have to?

Now, in the case of the person who says “I give more than I get back,” something is going wrong. Not because the giving and receiving is out of balance, but because of the feeling space of not being appreciated, of not getting what he or she needs in return.

love yourself

The giving in this case by all means does not need to stop. Instead he or she needs to think about ways of giving to himself or herself as well. Only when we truly appreciate ourselves and without guilt take care of our needs, can we freely give to others. What might be out of balance is not how much we give and get, but how much we are able to open up to receiving.

Do you truly feel you deserve to receive good things? Can you start by giving time, compassion and little daily joys to yourself?

loveyourself

Does giving to others always mean it has to be expensive and potentially put me into financial trouble? Is a personal Christmas card with heartfelt words and some home baked cookies not worth much more than an expensive store-bought gift to the adults in our life? Is a big hug, encouraging loving words and spending quality time playing and laughing not worth more than the newest electronic toy to our children?

Christmas-quoteI think we all know the answer, yet we do not always seem to act on it. What subconscious beliefs are holding us back from giving meaningful and less expensive gifts rather than over-spending? If our beliefs don’t serve us, we can let go of them.

gift giving quote

What if your family or friends have less money than you? I remember years ago in one of the earlier episodes of the TV show “Friends” some of the Friends had more money than others. The friends with less money felt embarrassed and pressured, when the Friends with more money were able to spend it freely on activities. What is a conscious way of handling a situation like that?

What do you do when your partner or friend has considerably less money than you? Can nobody go on vacation, or to the theatre, or a concert, or out for a nice dinner? Basically you have three conscious choices other than nobody gets to enjoy the activities life has to offer.

  1. You can go on vacation, to the theatre etc. by yourself or with another family member or friend.
  2. You can choose to pay for your partner or friend and enjoy time together. After all, money is just a means to an end.
  3. You can do something else with this person which is not dependent on finances.

Whichever decision you make, sit with it and feel it. Which one can you feel good about? If you cannot give and then let the money go, don’t pick choice #2, as your resentment impacts your experience as well as everybody elses.

Another question I would ask, is this situation of not having financial abundance a long-term, possibly life-long situation? If so, this person needs to change their subconscious beliefs about money, finances and prosperity. He or she might believe him/herself to be unable to make money, or keep/mange money, or to be undeserving of the freedom that money can buy. The list of limiting financial beliefs is almost endless. Most of them we are unaware of or truly believe that they are the “truth”.

gift giving - cookies

If your approach to Giving, to Christmas and/or to Life in general works for you, good for you. If Christmas stresses you out, emotionally or financially, and you feel you have no time to rest, reflect or be, you can shift your beliefs and make changes to your life.

Belief Change Coaching

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca