Christmas: A ‘To Do’ or ‘To Be’ Experience?


As Christmas approaches some people go all out spending lots of time and money to ensure everything goes smoothly.  

For each person, preparing will be different, and may include organising visits, travel arrangements, food preparation, buying clothes, a spiritual dimension, parties and, of course, the gift giving to do.  

Motivation may come from a sense of duty, a desire to show love for friends and family, or indeed from a self-imposed pressure to be the best parent, partner, friend etc.

This week, I began tuning in to the expectations and demands of the Season and how much I had ‘to do’.  

I found myself looking around my house (quite judgmentally!) telling myself that the sofa covers needed replacing, the store cupboards clearing and the dog needed grooming.  

I felt frustrated with our old Golden Retriever who has a long shedding coat, which makes the house such a mess, and I have visitors coming….. Wait a second! I reminded myself that she’s thirteen, with dodgy back legs and who am I trying to impress?  My Family, Friends or Myself?

Fear of being judged negatively can set us into a spin, attempting to control all possible worst case scenarios – forgetting to buy a gift, buying the wrong gift, over committing and under delivering about social events, saying the wrong thing, making a faux pas and feeling unsuccessful compared to others – the list goes on.  

It’s exhausting! The one thing we can all be sure about, is that we will mess up, that we will struggle with relationships and with our sense of being good enough, because it is part of being human.  Yet, having the courage to own our vulnerability and weaknesses may actually help us.

I read an interesting article recently which explained that contrary to what we think, people like us more when we’re not perfect, and actually view our vulnerability positively!

What it also said is that we are much harder on ourselves than on others. Brene Brown states: “We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we are afraid to let them see it in us…Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me.”  

Earlier this year, MyMind launched a video Tell Yourself Today which explored how easily we can describe the qualities we love in others, yet are reticent when speaking about ourselves.

It was interesting that nobody in the video spoke of how good the other person was about reaching goals, about being successful, of the nice home/car/job they had, or how perfect they were – it was all about their qualities of being.  

They described each other as being kind, caring, a good listener, having a sense of humour, being loyal, a good friend or valuing who they were with their unique set of talents.  What we love in others, and they love about us, is rarely found on a ‘to do’ list!  

Perhaps as we prepare for Christmas this year we could compile a ‘to be’ list.  

It might include to be more tolerant, honest, fun, even open and forgiving about mistakes in self and others, willing to ask for help, to be more in the moment than in one’s head or phone, or maybe to be brave in expressing how much the presence of someone means in our life.

So before you embark on your To Do list, perhaps begin to compile a To Be one too – you never know what nice surprises this Christmas might bring!

Written by Fionnula Drury