Last week we explored the origins of some of the traditions of Christmas and reminded ourselves that many of them were simply inventions to solve the problems of the day. The long-held traditions were most probably ‘fake news’ when they were first adopted, and over time they seem to have become eternal truths. I want to continue this theme a little this week in an attempt to make the coming holiday season a bit ‘lighter’ financially and lifting some of the ‘shoulds’ of the past.
Almost everything around the holiday celebrations will to seem different this year. The office parties, the school plays or concerts, even the television may have less new material due to filming constraints throughout 2020. Parents may be facing their first Christmas without paid work, many families unable to travel to visit loved ones this year. These losses must be acknowledged, but if we dwell on them for too long we all start to join Scrooge with his ‘bah humbug’ response to Christmas cheer. More importantly though, all our mental health becomes affected. Positive psychology offers a way forward when all seems lost.
The good news is that by simply being kind to ourselves and others this Christmas season we all benefit in the long run. Research has shown:
“Children who engage in acts of kindness tend to be more well connected, have higher levels of peer acceptance, and are less likely to bully others”.*
“People who are kind and compassionate see clear benefits to their wellbeing and happiness. They may even live longer. Kindness can also help reduce stress and improve our emotional wellbeing”.**
But we are kind to each other every year! We battle the shop queues, tackle online purchases and work hard to get our kids that perfect present etc…….. But the type of kindness that Positive psychology promotes, is that which is just gently beyond ourselves and our own family.
There have been so many examples of this type of kindness year on year, but this year, with social distancing, self-isolation and the lack of opportunity to physically go to the workplace, school or local community group, new forms of kindness have sprung up – mainly through the likes of zoom or google meets and Facebook groups.
This week I thought I would promote some of the groups I am aware of – but please do write in and tell us of any that you know exist now simply because we have been forced to be inventive – the what if question. Lets’ take a look at how we might make Christmas kinder all round!
Kindness to ourselves:
This is all about introducing the ‘what if?’ question to those of us that are old enough to offer a contribution – probably four years and above. Here are some examples:
What if, instead of lots of presents for each extended member of the family, we challenged everyone to buy one present at an agreed reasonable price, that would ‘work’ for any age range any gender etc.
When we get together (in numbers equal to or less than the legal number at Christmas), all the presents are placed in a box (or my Nan used a large suitcase) with ribbons attached, and when the box is closed, only the ribbons can be seen – enticing each member to choose a ribbon and follow it back to a present. You might end up with your own gift of course (unless you have found some ribbon so unique that you know not to choose that one!), but it levels the playing field and children usually respond really well to this idea. It is kind to ourselves as it considerably reduces the cost of presents for all, and even more so if the present was handmade with love.
What if we encouraged all family and friends to simply make something for us this year, or offer produce from our own gardens instead? It could be baked goods; pickled things; homemade sweets or bread…….then there could be the craft ideas, recycling old things, furniture or clothes to bring new life to them. Get the children to help, with ideas, designs, and the final creation too.
What if we had the courage to say “no”? “Not this year….. but what if we did this instead?”.
Kindness to others:
What if we can be kind indirectly by consciously purchasing and taking the time to learn about business in our local community, or across the Island.
Consider buying local, from the food on our plate to the gifts we present. There are many places to start – physically in the local shops, then online through for example:
- Vicki McLeod’s Majorca, Mallorca. Together Fb group.
- Lindsay’s Homemade Mallorca Fb group.
- Till Kraemer’s Mallorca Entrepreneurs Hub, a special website showcasing local small businesses with a Christmas raffle.
Or we can offer our time and talents directly, helping out at local beach cleans, helping the homeless. Here are some groups suggested from Facebook:
- What do you need help with. Mallorca
- Better Together.
- Yachting gives back.
- Mallorca skill swap.
What if, this Christmas we discover that volunteering as a family actually brings us closer together, a shared activity that we all enjoy that can continue throughout 2021 and beyond.
What if the pandemic has sparked new creativity in us all, new resourcefulness and resilience and we can all find just one small act of kindness which will ultimately make us all just that little bit wealthier mentally? What if……….?