'If we can get the inside right, the outside will fall into place' - Eckart Tolle
Every year, when I bring out this 58-year old artificial tree and decorate it, it brings back the real meaning of Christmas for me. I was 18 when I went traveling to Australia. Before setting off that summer’s day in 1994, I went to visit my grandfather for the last time. Why do I say for the last time? He had the big ‘C’ and we both knew that this was going to be the last time we would see each other. I suppose losing a grandparent most of us can relate to as a natural process of life. There is an acceptance that it's their time. I was the first grandchild born and held a dear place in my grandfather’s heart. When I walked out of their home that day, en route to Australia, I hugged him and smiled back at him knowing he would be proud of me on my travels.
He passed away in 1994 on the evening of Christmas Day. I was in Adelaide at the time. Around 18 months later my grandmother died. I remember my father and I packing their trinkets and ornaments into boxes. The house was empty. They had both gone and what were we to do with all their things? This generation did seem to collect a lot of ornaments.
I vividly remember sitting in the living room with all these boxes around us wondering why on earth do we collect so many ‘things’ throughout our lives. What would happen to them now? Most of them were taken to my parents' garage and that’s where they stayed for a number of years – in boxes. One thing, though, I kept.
My Dad asked me if I would you like to take anything from the house for myself. “Just the Christmas tree, please,” I replied. He looked at me a little bewildered, but for me there was no better way to remember my grandfather. Particularly as I could still smell the scent of the tobacco he used to smoke lingering on the tree.
There is no price to this memory and no price can be placed on this 58-year-old tree. This wonderful tree, that cost me nothing, really gets me thinking about the true meaning of the festive season and how much we spend on gifts. We put so much pressure on ourselves to fill our homes with materialistic things, trying to achieve the perfect Christmas.
For me, it’s simply a time to appreciate my loved ones, my nephew, my family and my friends. As we approach the festive season I always think that Christmas can be a very difficult time for some people for all sorts of reasons. I personally count myself in this group. It does sometimes still hurt, the emptiness of not having had the precious gift of my own children to share memories with. I do get a little sensitive this time of year, which is OK. Even though I have accepted that after 6 rounds of fertility treatment it wasn’t meant to be, it can still be tough. Very rarely it happens these days but the emotions can creep up when I least expect it. However, I now have the emotional “toolkit” to support me, which I’m forever grateful for.
I now understand why I was dealt these cards. I don’t dwell on it and I’m not angry. Because now I have the gift of time. I can now spend my time helping others, passing on these amazing tools. To walk with people; to spend time helping them understand who they are; to help them understand their habitual language patterns; to understand their triggers; to help them understand how to maintain a healthy state of mind; to see them in turn pass on these same tools to their families, friends and colleagues. These are my gifts to people, and so many of my clients send me emails and messages to express their gratitude for these life changing tools and tips.
The best Christmas present I can give to anyone is to pass on these skills to them.
My message is a simple one:
Spend time making memories this Christmas. Use your internal camera to take those pictures. Feel the gratitude of what you have around you. Give and receive love.
The watch, the car, the new piece of jewelry will not give you the same feeling that a Cwtsh* with a loved one will give you. They won’t give you the ‘belly-giggling moments’ with family and friends. They won’t give you the feeling of ‘belonging’. They won’t give you that feeling of ‘pride’ as you’re watching your children grow each year. They won’t give you that feeling of ‘contentment’. And if they do, believe me, it will be very short lived.
When the pressure points hit at Christmas, stop, take a deep breath, look around, smile and be grateful for what you already have.
If you can get out of your bed in the morning, you are wealthy.
If you can put food on the table, you are wealthy.
If you can spend time with loved ones, you are wealthy.
If you can get up and go to work every day, you are wealthy.
If you can place one foot in front of the other, you are wealthy.
And every year, when I take down the decorations from my little Christmas tree and store the tree away in the attic, I know one thing, although my grandfather’s tobacco scent faded away many years ago, the beautiful memories never will.
*Definition of Cwtsh: A welsh hug. The best word in the world - anyone can hug but only the Welsh can cwtsh : )