“It’s the day after Christmas and all through the house, not a creature is stirring not even a mouse…” (apologies to Clement Clarke Moore :)
How are you feeling this morning, dear reader? Content in the company of visiting family? Bloated from stuffing yourself with too much turkey? Maybe stressed due to lifelong family feuds being replayed on yet another Christmas day? Or possibly you are sad and lonely, not having anyone close by, or experiencing Christmas without a loved one for the first time this year?
My heart and thoughts go out to all the family and friends of our cancer patients who lost their struggle this year. I know that the first Christmas can be excruciatingly painful for those left behind. Be gentle with yourself at this time. If you have a friend who has lost someone this year, please make an effort to stay in touch. Often the weeks and months after the funeral are the loneliest as everyone goes on with their lives. Small gestures such as popping by for a coffee, bringing a pretty plant or inviting them over even for a simple meal of soup and a sandwich can be very welcome. Don’t worry about what to say - just asking how they are doing is often enough.
If you have had a stressful time with family this Christmas, maybe now is a good time to reassess how you would like to do things next year. Many people feel helpless and trapped by family obligations, but really, the choice is yours. If certain family members consistently behave in a toxic manner, maybe it is time to distance yourself from them. Remember, we cannot change how others behave, all we can change is our own responses. Continuing to invite obnoxious family members to Christmas dinners can be likened to banging your head against the wall - it is so good when you stop!
Since today is Boxing Day it is interesting to consider the origins of the name. An early attribution was that in England in the 1800’s people in service industries were given a box with a small amount of money for services rendered during the year. In Europe the tradition dated back even further to the “Alms Box” where money for the poor would be collected. I remember growing up in South Africa and having the milkman (yes in the days when fresh milk was delivered to your door daily!) and the newspaper delivery man, knocking on the door humbly asking for “Christmas box please”. Most people would be happy to give them a small amount as a Christmas present to supplement their meagre incomes.
As always, looking outwards to see what we can do to help others, to make their lives a little happier, and their emotional burdens a little lighter, is often the best present we end up giving ourselves. I like to use this time between Christmas and New Year to review which charities I will continue to support in the New Year and decide if there are any new ones I would like to add. Best wishes to all of you and talk again in 2018!