Take a minute to think about what Christmas means to you. Next week, focus on your family and put away devices and worries. I love the excitement of being around small children at Christmas, but I also love being around my parents and other older family members. It is so easy to get so wrapped up in helping your children grow up that you forget your parents might be growing old. I really regret not being with my granny on her last Christmas – of course I didn’t know it was to be her last and there is never any point in second guessing the past and getting lost in should’ve/would’ve/could’ve mentality. Always look forward. However, I am determined to learn from mistakes and regrets; making sure I spend as much time around Christmas with my parents will always be a priority.
Think about your gifting – wellbeing gifts make really thoughtful presents that are easy to arrange last minute! Gift someone the gift of better health with a block of classes from Gymclass or Lomax Bespoke Health; a pair of luxurious Heyjo leggings in their favourite colour (see me here in the Christmassy red ones at Gymclass!) or a stack of recipe books. My favourites for gifting are Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food, Madeleine Shaw’s Get The Glow, and Julia Montagu’s Superfood, all of which contain a lot of interesting nutrition information and food for thought as well as recipes. There are some pretty awesome e-books out there too. My current favourite is That Sugar Film’s Holiday Season Snacks, which inspired the strawberry ricotta santas above and also contains tips on preparing the perfect roast turkey. The sweet part is that it can be delivered in one click to anyone’s computer, anywhere in the world.
To me, Christmas is not so much about presents and material things at all. It is about family and also about giving and sharing love, and feeling grateful for everything I have. One thing I always do at Christmas time is volunteer. Last year I worked in a soup kitchen and at a Great Ormond Street Childrens Hospital Christmas party (see me as a fairy!). Both broke my heart in various different ways and l actually walked home (a two hour walk) from each so I could clear my head and stop the after-event tears before I got home to my own children. This year I am spending the whole of Christmas Eve in a church hall preparing for, setting up, hosting and entertaining at a Christmas party for elderly, poor and homeless people who otherwise would have no Christmas in any sense of the word. I am really looking forward to chatting with them, hearing their stories and trying to spread some joy, hope, love and peace which is what Christmas is about.
I am no Mother Theresa. I suspect I do most charity work for purely selfish reasons – it makes me really happy. Countless psychologists and philosophers will attest to this: gratefulness, a sense of purpose and a sense of perspective are genuinely the key to happiness. I can thank my parents for this gift – at least one day of every childhood Christmas holiday was spent hosting Christmas parties for orphanage children and giving them our old toys, playing games in local prisons with prisoners, singing carols in hospitals, hospices and old peoples’ homes. I can honestly still remember the smiles of this little orphan Maria playing with my My Little Ponies. I remember refusing to commit to my mother that I would give many/any of them, but when the kids arrived and I saw how happy these things made children who had nothing, I ended up giving away them all – including the rainbow unicorn that I talked to and slept with for years . We also gave them all but a few of our soft toys – see the photo my father took so we would remember them. Can you spot the real kitten? Positive reinforcement (healthy blackmail) works really well with kids!
I was slightly upset at all the slightly enforced charity work our parents instilled in us as children but now I am grateful. It gave me values that have made my life happier. I cannot wait for my own children to be involved in my charity work – they will absolutely love it and I will make it so fun and so rewarding. I’m not trying to be a Christmas Grinch – and God knows I am as consumerist as the next girl. But think about what Christmas means to you and don’t get caught up in trivial wants. The only truly precious commodities we have are our health, our time and our love. Cherish the time you spend with those you love this Christmas.
P.S. I make no references to the religious meaning of Christmas and this is not because I don’t recognise the significance or importance. I will never write about religion or politics. Ever. Nutrition is controversial enough!