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Christmas is coming

Counselling — admin @ 2:51 pm

I was reluctantly walking up from the counselling centre here in Seatown Place towards Dundalk town centre yesterday at dusk. The footpaths are hard to negotiate with compacted snow and ice. That fear of falling is one only an adult can comprehend… I saw a little toddler running along gleefully in front of his Mammy, not even considering the possibility of a fall for a second and I thought of how we lose those childlike qualities.
I was very struck by the number of older people who were out getting their few bits and pieces, two ol’ fellas having a chat and a laugh, no hurry on them. I particularly noticed one old woman who was walking slowly along with her tartan shopping trolley (you know the kind I mean). I was cold, my feet like blocks of ice in my new purple (Lidl) wellies bought just for the snow….she smiled the broadest smile at me, no words passed between us, just a nod. As I walked on I found myself wondering what sort of Christmas she was going to have, if there was anyone to get her shopping on a day like this?. Had she any relations, any children, grandchildren even? Or did she just want to get out and be independent? She might even have been getting a pint of milk and a loaf of bread for her even more elderly neighbour, I don’t know her story but for sure she has lived through many Christmases….
It got me thinking about how Christmas is ever changing for us as we continue through life. From being the child whom Santa (hopefully) came to, through to the woman of eighty odd years I met on the street. How many Christmases had she loved, endured, been in love through, had babies, excited toddlers and indifferent teenagers? Had she a loving husband, was he still alive? Maybe she had had a difficult marriage and was glad it was no more. She might have remained single … was she lonely or content with the choices she had made? How did she feel about this Christmas approaching?
Life is ever changing, nothing stays the same….people leave us through illness and death, babies are born, new relationships bring the oddest of families together, separation and divorce divide families and create new ones, people grow apart and remain under the guise of marriage, children will grow up, leave home, start their own families, maybe emigrate. Christmastime can magnify our ‘situation’; it can highlight the pain that is already there, the loneliness that we are busy ignoring. On the other hand it can make us really appreciate the relationships we’ve got, imperfect and all as they are…
Maybe Christmas is a time to be honest with yourself, accepting where you are at and doing the best you can. Sure, you may wish some things were different but for now it’s enough of a starting point to want things to change in the future. You are where you are at as a result of your experiences in life. Like the woman I met on the street, her life of eighty odd years has led her to be out in the snow, doing her own shopping in Dundalk, kind enough to give me a smile when there was nothing I could see to smile about! Knowing and accepting yourself and your situation is essential to effecting change. There’s nothing to be gained from beating yourself up about it. Forget about putting huge demands on yourself. Be kind to yourself and this will reflect in your relationships with others. If you are lucky enough to have children in your life be proud that Santa is surely on his way in these recessionary times, bringing what he can. Of course spending time with children is more important for them than all the toys. The benefits for adults are immeasurable too and it can be just what we need to bring us back to ourselves, like the toddler in the snow, unafraid of falling, uninhibited by fear.
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