As I was taking the Christmas tree ornaments out of the box marked “Xmas decorations” I had this familiar feeling which seems to get worse each year; like I had put it all away only a few months ago. Although every year has twelve months I seem to skip some and Christmas is back in no time. The years packed with events and “to do lists” vanish as snow in the sun. I asked myself "What I am doing wrong?" and "How can I slow down the clock?". So, in the busiest month of all I try hard to live in the moment, to enjoy the cosiest month of the year.
A long time ago the birth of a little baby boy had this enormous impact on the world we still live in today. Every year his birthday causes family and friends to come together to spend some days away from work and all the other things we are so busy with. We finally get to slow down the clock for a couple of hours, a couple of days. And although we do get stressed with house decorating and gift shopping when December starts, in the end we sit down with the ones we love. We finally get to live in the moment and enjoy each others company surrounded by the scent of vanilla and cinnamon amidst Christmas lights and burning candles.
During these moments we also become more aware of the empty spot a loved one has left behind. Christmas without a spouse, a mother, a father, a child, or a friend feels undoubtedly different from others and that certainly is not easy. The gathering of family and friends becomes more important than ever and the reminiscing about past Christmases can be healing.
With the loss of a loved one, we don’t lose our love for them. That love will always be part of our lives and but we feel the absence of those we love even stronger during Christmas. The sharing of memories with our families and friends can bring our loved one back for the special times we spent together during the holiday season. Sharing memories allows us to acknowledge the existence and significance of our loved ones in our lives. Creating presence amongst us eases the loneliness and the empty spot can be filled with a feeling of connection.
In our busy everyday lives we are not always aware of having all our loved ones around us. With Christmas this is a precious gift. Maybe that is why this little boy was born, to at least once a year have us sit down together in harmony, and make us pay attention to one another, a most important ingredient of love. At least once a year we can put our “to do list” aside and focus on those we love. This is by far the best Christmas gift of all. Better yet it doesn’t cost us anything.
Maybe I can slow down the clock next year and practise more of what we do at Christmas time. Maybe I manage to do that throughout the whole year. And maybe then my year will have twelve months and next December I won’t be able to remember where I have put the box with the Christmas decorations. Life is too short to let it rush by and each day is a beautiful present that does not need to wait until Christmas to be opened.
The Alberni Valley Hospice Society offers ongoing grief and bereavement counselling for both individuals and group support programs. If you would like to know more about the services that we offer, please call us at 250-723-4478 or visit our website,www.albernihospice.ca.
We thank the community of Port Alberni for their generous and ongoing support of our Hospice programs, especially our bed program Ty Watson House. We wish you all a warm and loving Christmas and a happy New Year.