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Raising Spirits at Christmas

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Raising Spirits at Christmas
Paula Vaughan

It is indeed that time of year. The pulse of the Universe seems to be beating faster every day. The media constantly lets us know how many days have slipped away as the time draws nigh to the big day. Some of us have gotten tired of the commercialization of this holiday. What can we do about it??

Right now stop, close your eyes and take a deep breath. What three words come to mind for you about Christmas? Jot these down. Did any of you come up with the words rest, relaxation, and peace? My words used to be stress, stress and more stress. This is how I changed that for me. We all have the ability to make change and there is still time to incorporate it in this year's celebration.

My peaceful words came after years of experimenting with Christmas. One of the first things to change was decorating. My children took over that chore. They had their friends over and I made lunch while they put things anywhere they wanted. That went well until we all moved out. Since then I have done Christmas many ways.

One year I traveled. My children had been here a few weeks before Christmas and we exchanged gifts then and they returned to NC to spend Christmas with their father and friends. My boyfriend and I went to Mexico for Christmas week. It turned out to be a very sad time for me. Being in a foreign place with my boyfriend was different and difficult. I didn't feel connected. We went to mass in a little town and that helped some. The entire service was in Spanish, which I don't understand. Before Christmas we noticed many towns had huge crèches outside churches, town halls and hotels. All of the mangers were empty. On Christmas day the baby Jesus arrived and was placed in the manger. Seems like they paid attention to the details of the Christmas story more than we did. What I missed was my family being around and my home. This was a 2 years after I had divorced and was trying to find my comfort zone. A good friend had told me the first Christmas after divorce is the worst. Every year after that it gets better. She was so right. It has gotten better.

The next year I went to NC and met my children at my son's apartment with a Christmas dinner purchased from the honey baked ham store. That felt more connected even though it didn't last long and I was in a friend's house for Christmas Eve.

Lately I have been staying home and really like that the best. We have been doing an extended Christmas celebrating when anyone shows up. Our grandson and his mom made an unexpected trip to visit us in November. Bob got out our artificial Christmas tree with lights. He had purchased it last year when it was too cold to visit the lots. Actually lots of people here are using them in hopes to preserve trees from being cut. Sure does make it easier to get the tree up and down. Our grandson Keegan 2 years old, was here for the weekend. He walked in and saw the tree with his presents under it. He loved unwrapping them and we got to enjoy him playing with them for the time he was here. We even hung his stocking. Still haven't put ornaments on the tree yet, but we definitely beat all the neighbors for having a tree up first.

We will repeat this when my daughter comes to celebrate before she flies to NC. There is even a possibility that we will have two more celebrations if my sons decide to make a visit before the 25th. I have found that Christmas is truly in the heart and you can celebrate it any day.

The reason my 3 words for Christmas are rest, relaxation and joy is that Bob and I have spent the last 3 years in Marco Island, Florida, the first week in December. It is our Christmas present to each other. We rest swim, relax and do some Christmas shopping. It is a slow down instead of a speed up time for us. We look forward to this vacation time all year.

Most of us have discovered shopping from organizations that are connected with those in need. The heifer project is great-you can donate and send a card to friends letting them know this is what you did for them. I have reduced the number of gifts I give. I have made it okay if my boys don't come and just happily wrap Christmas boxes for them. I am cutting out those "have to presents". It is fun to give to those who least expect it, such as the mailman and the garbage men.

For years I taught a workshop about taking the stress out of Christmas. I think I am finally implementing it in my life. My words are peace, relax and joy.

Last year I read the book Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. It is a delightful story of a couple doing just that to the consternation of their neighbors. It has a warm, feel good outcome. You can enjoy reading it after the Christmas rush is over and you are enjoying the week after the holiday. This is the most relaxed and restful week of the year for most of us.

Look at the things you have to do before Christmas and ask yourself what do you enjoy doing? What can you let other family members do to help you? What do you really want out of the holiday? I have found that spending time with my family and friends is most important to me. So we make it work whatever day it is and it doesn't even have to be in Dec. This year Bob and I may be alone or end up with a house full. My son and his daughter have not made a decision yet about coming. It will be okay either way as Christmas is in the heart. Going to church on Christmas Eve is the only tradition I have kept.

Now take a deep breath and imagine the Christmas you really want. Notice how you are feeling. What are people around you doing that makes them feel good? Is it doing Christmas baking? Is it decorating? Is it singing? Is it going to church at midnight? What opens your heart and those around you? Let your imagination show you what is really important to you for the holiday. Before you open your eyes what 3 words come to mind when you think of Christmas? I hope it is peace, joy and happiness. We all deserve to have the Christmas that opens our hearts and makes us truly happy. Make it the Christmas you want.

Paula Vaughan is a spiritual counselor, business and medical intuitive, and medium. She lives in Boulder, CO and can be reached at 303-447-0250 or email you can visit her website at