What actually is Christmas?

by Nicole Serafin, Age 40, Tintenbar NSW

I have been observing, not only this year but over the past few years, what it is that Christmas actually is.

When we were young it was all about the presents, then as I hit my teenage years it became all about the celebrations and parties that went along with the festive season. I spent many a morning with hangovers, then the afternoons with a very full belly, wishing I had not eaten or drunk so much. Then as I got older there seemed to actually be no true meaning to Christmas.

People used to say that if you had children or grandchildren that it was all about the children, but if you did not have any children, what then? You can see on the news the amount of unwanted gifts that get returned or sold online; gifts that have been given out of duty or obligation because it is just something we do at Christmas. Gifts are purchased that can often not be afforded, but the debt is incurred anyway, just to make sure that we are ‘doing the right thing’. The extra stress and pressure people put themselves under to make sure that the day is perfect, whether it be with food, alcohol and/or gifts, is enormous.

Each year the conversations that I have with people – whether it be shopkeepers, checkout people, family or friends – are always the same: why do we do this, I can’t wait for it to be over, next year I am going to do it differently, etc. They then dread the day that their credit card statement arrives.

For me it appeared that the meaning and purpose of Christmas had been lost and it became increasingly difficult to go along with it the older I got. It felt like it had become something that we celebrate out of habit, rather than what we feel we should do, in the way that we feel it should be.

I decided that I had to distance myself from the whole Christmas thing in order to rediscover what, for me, Christmas was all about. I got to feel that Christmas was a time that I wanted to spend with people dear to me, with friends and family. It is a time to celebrate who I am, and reflect on what I have, and appreciate where I am at. I then take that deeper appreciation and self-love with me into the new year.

148 thoughts on “What actually is Christmas?

  1. I know year in year out we do the same thing! I was in a supermarket just now and picked up a ladies shopping basket instead of mine! 😂 but it got us laughing and talking and sharing exactly the same thing you are saying here and what many people are probably saying. This year I feel much calmer about the whole thing but am inspired that you distance yourself from the whole thing and reflect something different to others.

  2. When we say ‘Why do we do this?’ but still continue doing it, there must be something we are still getting out of it that satisfies our needs. It is great we keep questioning and talking about these things so that one by one we can let go of anything that no longer serves us and inspire others that there is a different way.

  3. The end of December is an opportunity to reflect on the year and to reconnect with people in preparation for the year that is coming.

  4. Christmas has become a review time, a time to get together with loved ones and a time to consider what next, to take the time to see what worked and what needs refining, and the more I’ve let go the old ideas of how Christmas should be celebrated, the more I love it and the space it offers for us to stop and reflect.

  5. I love that how you took time to distance yourself from Christmas and redefined what that is for yourself and how you would spend it. There are things in life we just go along with even though we don’t really like it because it’s a habit/tradition that has been going on for years, but I am realizing more and more how toxic this complacency is, and to override our true feelings to not rock the boat.

  6. This year with Christmas dinner one of our family members was too sick to be there and we all missed that person not being there deeply, but when I brought it up this was not a topic considered ‘appropriate’ for Christmas. This made me wonder how many pictures and ideals dominate our conversations in specific days or certain times of our lives: there are so many events where we all have to be happy, whether it is your birthday, a holiday or dinner out. How about we give ourselves space to be where we are and permission to communicate about that?

  7. What if we could wake up each morning in appreciation of the new day ahead, celebrating what we have to offer to all, and what is on offer for us in the day ahead, celebration of what life brings can be our every day not just one day of the year.

  8. If we made every day about quality and appreciation it would be the best gift we can ever give ourselves and others.

  9. Humanity times itself in cycles like christmas and birthdays, and yet the cycles of the universe are so profound so far reaching, and these are the cycles that are truly dictating our lives.

  10. When we managed to extricate ourselves from these rituals that have become the norm, and yet hold no substance whatsoever, we can start to celebrate truly what there is to celebrate in our lives, and the amazing choices that we have made, if we have made them.

  11. And then I say to myself, well that’s a blueprint for every day isn’t it? Deeper connection with others, greater appreciation. So why not make it so? Perhaps we should coin the phrase ‘appreciation is not just for Christmas’.

  12. Christmas is all about connection, spending time with family and loved ones, connecting with each other, so much of the hype and anxiety about Christmas could be eliminated if we realised the greatest gift is to be ourselves fully, and offer our presence as the present for others.

  13. Christmas today for most exposes the lack of connection to ourselves for when we are with ourselves in stillness nothing not even Christmas and everything that comes with it is greater than the connection to ourselves and to others.

  14. Christmas has become a present-fest in society. But if we strip this back and look at what lies behind that, to me it seems that people are wanting to express their love and connect with others. It just so happens that they do this via presents. The presents are not necessary and we can have the love and connection without them ,but for some presents are the means by which they express.

  15. I live overseas a long distance away from my immediate family and I spent many years trying to post presents every Christmas when the postage often cost more than the present and I found it really difficult to find a gift I wanted to give that I could post. Then one year I discussed it with my family and they were feeling the same thing so we agreed not to send any gifts at Christmas. It took all the stress out of it and now it is more about catching up with them on Skype rather than the presents.

  16. Christmas can be stripped pretty easily of all the unnecessary ad-ons, if we bring it back to core. Connecting with the people we love. No gifts, alcoholic drinks or copious amount of food needed.

  17. For many, Christmas is a great excuse to over indulge, and be too tired or exhausted to play with the children, so they end up getting expensive electrical gadgets to keep them entertained, yet Christmas is really a time for family and friends sharing an intimate time together, where you feel the love, the joy and the laughter from your heart.

  18. Every Christmas when I do something out of obligation I say not next year, so next year is coming around again and I can feel that pulling obligatory emotion there to just cave in and do it but it serves no one. It in truth only serves ‘need’ and ‘recognition’ but there is no love in it.

  19. It is quite interesting to observe the anxiety and stress many people get into around Christmas time. There are many pictures and ideals around Christmas that spoil people just enjoying the simple company of family and friends and celebrating the connection we all share.

  20. Often we carry on with a long-held tradition/custom just for the sake of it being a tradition and it is actually only the carcass that has remained and no one quite knows why we are doing what we are doing, but we carry on doing it anyway without ever questioning it really.

  21. I had an ah ha moment the other day when I was trying to decide what to do for Christmas day. The moment that I realized I have always reacted to the lack of connection on Christmas day. It’s a day I am to spend with family in connection and the lack of connection within my family is right in my face. This year I can feel how it is me that brings this connection to my family- a purposeful Christmas it will be this year.

    1. What a great realisation Kim, I’ve also reacted to the lack of connection when visiting family for Christmas but what was I doing? Equally not connecting and waiting for others to do it first… doesn’t quite make sense when I put it like that.

      1. Exactly Aimee, I seemed to have had the same theme running when it came to being love. Show me love first and then I will love you. A great way to not live responsibly and be all the love we are.

      2. Yes that’s it Kim, when we fall into ‘you do it first’ then we are in separation and contributing to the inequality that we are all sons of God and are all able to connect to love in an instant.

  22. As a child I always loved Christmas Day because I would get to see all of my cousins and family together. However, often there would be tensions, arguments and fights between the adults and it was then that my attention would turn towards the presents and focusing on these as a way of trying to avoid what was going on and to try to find some ‘love’ in the day- if they got me a good present then they do love me type of thing.

  23. I was out shopping with a friend today and noticed Christmas decorations. There was a fleeting moment where I realised we have no plans, but then said to myself that’s perfectly OK. I no longer make it a big deal and get stressed with all the hype. It’s an opportunity to get together with friends and family just like we do throughout the rest of the year.

  24. Christmas is one of those stones many people bump into year after year with identical results year after year. In a sense, it is a reflection of life and all of the stones we bump into from time to time. If we only pay attention to them and give them the particular importance they have (repetitive situations we find ourselves into this time) just to make sure not to repeat what happens while we face them, we then move forward.

  25. When we celebrate being together with family and friends just to celebrate who we are and spending time together it is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the cycle of the year.

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