a bauable on a christmas treeWell, it’s two days until we celebrate Christmas here in the UK. To be truthful it seems like we’ve been celebrating to greater or lesser degrees for weeks already but the day itself, 25th December, will soon be here.

Listening to friends and family I hear the common theme of “I’m looking forward to spending time with family”. If you are lucky enough to have family, if you are blessed enough to have family you enjoy spending time with, Christmas dinner on Christmas Day can be a big thing.

Last year I wrote about Schroedinger’s Christmas, the Christmas that simultaneously was and that wasn’t until most of us “opened the box” on Christmas Day to discover that we were in fact dining alone.

This year, I am cautiously optimistic that I will be dining with a select few family members, three guests of advanced years and enhanced clinical vulnerability but who are, thank goodness, triple jabbed so as safe as they can be.

A cautious Christmas.

I guess I’m personally still experiencing tension. Tension between wanting to give a great Christmas experience to people I love and who I know love family gatherings at Christmastime especially.

On the other hand there’s my personal preference for a meal with the smallest possible numbers, no pressure to get dinner ready on time, no need to entertain guests before or after we eat together. And yes, no concern about am I one of those asymptomatic carriers of the SARS-CoV2 virus who still manages to produce a negative Lat Flow test result and kill my mother-in-law?

OK, I get it. Life itself is full of risks and when you’ve done the best you can, that’s it. Nobody wants to feel so fearful that there is no joy left in living, certainly not me.

So, a cautious Christmas it is.

I need to find my party-self. Somewhere inside there’s a part of me that knows how to relax and have fun with others, a part of me that hasn’t seen daylight much in the last 2 years. I’ve had a pandemic period where we’ve invited very few people into our home, for obvious reasons, and I’ve discovered that I like that very much indeed.

But that is not who I want to be – at least, not all the time. I want to welcome others, much as I like to be welcomed. I want to be interested and invested in others – I might need to watch the highlights of the Strictly final so I can chat knowledgeably about it with an enthusiast. Always do your research before a networking event!

And what about you? What are your feelings as you prepare for Christmas? Excited anticipation? Cautious optimism? A low-level dread?

Whatever this weekend brings for you, I hope you find some time to be aware of who you want to be and how you want to show up in the world. Living with others is often enhanced by a little flexibility, maybe compromise or negotiation but that will only work if, a) deep down you know who you are and what is important to you and b) you understand why you are willing to make the adjustments or compromises.

Self-knowledge and personal values. The tools we need to negotiate life successfully.

My choice to spend time, cheerfully, happily with others is an expression of my values, not a compromise coerced.

I will rediscover how to be a gracious host, not because I’m forced to fake it but because I choose to play it.

I really do hope you find some time to be your best self over the next week at the same time as exploring other possible selves who maybe you don’t embody on a daily basis. Take the time you need to rest and replenish. Be as gentle or as adventurous as you need to be!

So do have a lovely time this weekend, however you celebrate Christmas.