Saturday, 13 December 2014

Glitter, Guilt and Gratitude

I love this time of the year (not that anyone would have noticed...ahem..). Its the feeling of something magical. Its the cold weather outside and the snug warmth inside. The good food (both made and enjoyed and watched on TV, thank you Jamie and Nigella), the sentimental feel good movies, its the nostalgic music, the traditions, the twinkly lights, hopeful for snow, the family trips, its the decorating of home, its of spending time at home, creating memories, taking time to slow down for a bit to enjoy and share in the company of those we love. Its a celebration of life and love in the dark depths of winter. Its that warm fuzzy feeling, that I can only describe as 'magical'. If December were a colour, it'd be glitter.
In my opinion, it is not about rushing about, worrying about buying this or that, running up silly debts on tat no-one needs, stressing that everything is 'perfect', telling the kids to "be good or Santa won't come", its not about getting and wanting.
I have been, and am, working hard at trying to make special memories for Kiddo and establish and cement the traditions that Hubby and I have carried on from our own childhoods and those we have cultivated for ourselves. I find myself throwing everything I have at Christmas this year - going all out. I am posting what we're doing yet fear that it looks all "Ooh, look at me, see what wonderful things we are doing, tra-la-la-la-la-la", which is not the intention!  Everything is deliberately being spread out through the entire month, as I mentioned in a previous post, the lessen the intensity of CHRISTMAS on Kiddo. The last 2 Christmases have, to be honest, been pretty hellish and stressful as it has been an overload on his sensory function.  We have calmed it right down (which it may not look like from my blog posts, but its little bits at a time), and relatives have been prepped with our 1 toy policy for gifts this year. Previously Christmas day has just been too much, and has taken the fun right out of the festive period.  This time of year, it is said, "is all about the kids", well, we're putting our child first and fully intend on enjoying our celebrations this year, rather than stressing to the hilt and having the worst time of all.  Even the giving of gifts and the turkey dinner is being spread over the course of 3-4 days. By which, I mean we have different activities on different days, not the turkey one day and the trifle on another, although depending on the the size of the trifle, that may still be the case...
So far, our plan is working. Kiddo is excited for Christmas but not hyper. He is taking it in his stride, and enjoying making presents to give his Grandparents (the cards as still under construction however... he is more cook than crafter though).  He is not wound up by the whole 'Santa' issue, he knows Santa will bring presents to the boys and girls round the world, and that's cool. He would like to meet Santa and his reindeer (which is lucky as he is going to next week).

I am well aware of the fact that while I am posting all the things we have been doing, there are many people, for whom this festive period will be anything but jolly.  The number of people who are relying on the local food bank to feed them and their families throughout the month and over the festive period is increasing at an unprecedented rate. We are a first world country with unacceptable levels of people living either below the poverty line or just surviving on it. Families are choosing food or fuel this winter. Poverty knows no differences and does not discriminate. It affects the young, the old, singletons, families, the healthy, the disabled. Even more shocking is the number of people who are working hard and yet their pay packet does not stretch far enough to fed and nourish them.  I feel guilty that while I am warm and having fun making baking and eating delicious food, others are not. I have donated to the local food bank and will continue to do so, but it doesn't take away that guilt.  While I am wrap up gifts for my family, there are many who are not, never mind even thinking about Santa.  What child wants to discover the truth about Santa, the year that their parent(s) can't afford him?
I feel guilty that I'm not doing more to help those in need.  My household is by no means a flush one, and I give what I can, in terms of donations and of my time, trying to find the balance between my family and helping others. Its a difficult balance to find, as I will always put the needs of my boys first, and Kiddo has specific needs, but I have that feeling of guilt when I see others people doing so much to help the community/charities etc.  One of our friends is opening his business on Christmas day to offer dinner to local homeless people.  I think this is a wonderful thing to do, and would love to have helped out. Instead we will donate food to the meal.
Its not just those living in poverty, other people such as those whose loved ones are away from home serving in the armed forces, or are in hospital, or have suffered a bereavement/loss - they may not exactly be feeling merry and bright.  This time of year can make for a very lonely and sad time, especially when all around everyone else appears to be in full celebratory swing and joy.
The guilt is something that I think will always be there - there is always more we can do, its just the level of what we are prepared to give depends on our individual priorities and circumstances.

In thinking about others, I can appreciate how lucky I am.
I am ever so grateful for my family. There are no 2 people more important to me in this world than Hubby and Kiddo. My extended family too, my sister, parents, nephews, in-laws. My son is growing up surrounded by people who love him and each other (no matter how much we all annoy each other at times).
I am grateful:
for our health,
for our happiness,
for the fact that every night I can lock my front door and keep our roof over our heads. Truth is in the words of John Howard Payne " Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home",
that I can cook, and am able to keep our tummies full and bodies nourished,
for my frugalness and ability to save (to allow for the trip to Edinburgh and Santa visit - I have saved long and hard for this festive fun)
to Morrisons for introducing their loyalty card as I have been able to save up my points (through savvi shopping) and now have £40 of money off vouchers, plus my £25 Xmas Bonus voucher, so my Christmas food shopping won't cost me a penny,
that Hubby's job allows for me to work part time and home-educate Kiddo. This despite the fact he is under redundancy conditions at present, but should he not have a job at the end of the process, we have until June 2015 to find something else,
for the time that I spend with Kiddo, watching and learning with him as he grows, and seeing his character develop (especially yesterday when he saw the Salvation Army advert on the TV and asked if that was the food bank he donated to, (no it wasn't), and said "well, we need to help them too then")
that I am able to provide the opportunity to create the magical festive period for my family,
for my friends - I don't have lots of friends, but I do have good friends and new friends, and some I have never actually met in person.  Each one valuable in their own way,
for the love of my darling Hubby.

I am lucky.
I hope everyone who participates in winter celebrations find some joy and love, no matter how little or much they have.

Found here on Pinterest