Do you dread the approach of Xmas? — the pressures, demands, organising and trying to meet everyone’s needs? — or maybe facing loneliness and grief if you don’t have family or loved ones to share it with?
Xmas delivers such impossible expectations of merriment, excessive food and family togetherness that many of you will end up sitting amidst the debris of wrappings and chicken bones at the end of the day, feeling you have failed.
If this sounds like you, I want you to know something.
You are good enough, exactly as you are.
I remember back in the 70s, discovering the work of paediatrician Donald Winnicott. When he coined the term ‘the good enough mother’, and it eventually spread through women’s networks, mothers all over the western world breathed a collective sigh of relief. We finally slipped free from the straitjacket of guilt. We had been trying to be all things to all people. We were Mothers who Did Too Much, mothers who tried too hard, and mothers who always felt we were falling short. We were Mothers Who Ran with the Hyenas.
Until this phrase ‘the good enough mother’, which fell ‘like the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath’ —words penned by Shakespeare about the quality of mercy. When you remember that you are good enough, you are softened by mercy and blessed by compassion.
Some ideas for the approach to Xmas
So how do you end the year softened and blessed? Here are some ideas:
1. Drop Xmas. No, I don’t mean literally (although you could!). I’m talking metaphorically.
If Xmas has come to represent impossible expectations (including acting as if it’s winter), then summer solstice, the time of peak sun energy on December 22, represents nothing more to be done.
The sun has achieved its goal of rising to the zenith. And so have you. The year is done. At summer solstice, instead of piling on more demands, how about pausing to appreciate all that you have achieved over the year?
2. Pause now. Imagine you are dropping Xmas, with all its pressures, into the sea. Go ahead. Drop it and let it sink deep into the ocean. Drop those demands.
Now breathe. Breathe into spaciousness. Breathe into the expanded energy of summer solstice and let the sun smile blessings upon you. Take in the heart-warming message that you are good enough. Take in the quality of mercy.
3. Remember what you have already achieved this year. You have done so much; probably a lot more than you can even remember in this moment. Never mind. Just let it be, and feel gratitude for what you have done. Give thanks for who you are. You are enough.
Perhaps you will be able to ‘press pause’ on December 22 and celebrate solstice with a simple picnic, a walk on the beach, a ritual or an evening meal.
But even if you can’t, you don’t have to suffer on the Xmas treadmill. You can ease off, do one less thing, and step into the benevolent glow of solstice at any moment.
Blessings to you all, and may mercy and self-acceptance hold hands in your home and in your heart.
In summer, the song sings itself.—William Carlos Williams
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