So, with less than two weeks to go how are your Christmas preparations going? Cards all written and posted? Shopping completed and only the presents left to wrap? Maybe you’re in a state of denial telling yourself that there’s plenty of time left, all will be fine, after all magic really does happen at Christmas doesn’t it? Or perhaps you’ve reached a state of mild hysteria as you try to juggle work, family AND Christmas. I’ve just been reading an article in the Guardian  (I think my husband thinks Santa does it all) about the extra emotional work women take on around Christmas which resonates with the experience of many of the women I know, including myself.

I truly believe that December has its own speed of time which is twice as fast as normal. You’re all calm and in control on the 1st December and then, in the blink of an eye, it’s the 20th. How did that happen?

Not only does time fly faster but have you noticed how, at work, extra meetings get crammed in? ‘Before Christmas’ becomes an important deadline. People clearing things off their ‘to do’ list means delight for them but an addition to your ‘to do’ list.

It’s all a bit bonkers isn’t it? However, as I write this post I’m sitting in our cottage with a log fire burning, lots of candles a glow and the oak beams wrapped around with white fairy lights. Yes, for real! It’s warm, cosy and, most of all, peaceful. An ambience befitting a very old cottage that has been witness to several hundred Christmas celebrations. Imagine what Christmas would have been like in the 17th Century when the cottage was built? What would have been important then?

If you write blogs there is some pressure associated what to write in the Christmas blog, it feels important. Previous years have seen the reimagining of a Christmas pantomime, Little r You Shall Go To The Ball, and a thank you to everyone who puts so much work and energy into building communities, Thank You to All You Community Builders, but what to write this year?

Take some time to reflect

This year things feel more reflective and this post is sparked by a discussion with a coaching colleague who was describing a visualisation exercise around a gift shop. It resonated with me and set me thinking – a sure sign of something to get curious about. It led me down a train of thought around what gift would I give myself for Christmas? I’m not meaning the kind of thing you go out and spend a lot of money on. The kind of thing we often tell ourselves we don’t have time to do, feel guilty about or think we don’t deserve.

I wondered if I were to walk into a shop and the boxes on display were labelled with possible options what would they read and which one would I pick to give myself? It’s a nice exercise to give some time to.

So give yourself a coffee/tea break, settle down and get comfy and why not use it to drift off for a few minutes on your very own personal shopping expedition. For a few minutes, switch off from the lure of the lifestyle magazines and Christmas specials peddling their versions of how Christmas ‘should’ be. Where does your heart take you if you just quieten all the hubbub down. Go on, give yourself a moment to do a special bit of shopping, you deserve it.

It’s not the rammed shops that you’re experiencing on the high street at the moment but a shop open just for you. Take a minute to look around and really think about the possible gifts you would like to give yourself for Christmas. What would they be? A quiet time on your own snuggled up with a good book? A long walk or maybe some exercise? Time to have coffee and a catch up with a friend? Time to play with the children? A shop full of possibilities.

Imagine picking each of them up, examining them, which is the one that is calling you, really calling you?  The voice that is saying, ‘this one is for me.’? Take a few moments over this – it’s an important gift.

Have you got it?

Now here’s the important bit. When you have chosen it grab a piece of paper and write yourself a gift tag. Write down what it is AND a ‘use by’ date. Lets build some intention in here –

“I am going to promise myself that by ….. (date) I will have given myself the gift of………..”

Make sure you put it somewhere prominent, set up an alert on your calendar, ask someone to remind you.

This is important because YOU are important and that’s something that is easy to forget at a time of year when all of the focus is outward.