‘One day to go’, so says the Christmas countdown that my youngest has been turning over religiously each morning. One day before the noise, and the mayhem, and the laughter, and the arguments, and the tears.
Because Christmas does not magically make us exempt from those things. It is a day just like any other, and we are just as human at Christmas as on any other day.
My mum has asthma so I know how important breath is. I know how important it is that her lung passages are open, so she can breathe in and out with ease. I know that the simple act of breathing that I take for granted has been something she has to use medication to support.
Brené Brown talks about the importance of breathing in this last chapter of Braving the Wilderness. Recounting a conversation she had with Dr Joan Halifax.
I dropped the girls at school, and sighed deeply. It had been a morning of tears, and grumpiness. I felt I had gone ten rounds of emotional battle before 9am, (and lost most of them).
I was weary and teary, but I rushed home and got things ready for the trip to Rockingham. I called my Mum as I drove, and then I called my best friend. Talking the whole trip down.
It wasn’t until I sat down at the table, and the timer was set for the ‘Shut up and write’, that I suddenly realised how worn out I was. Emotionally I have been holding my family together. But not even thinking about me.
I was talking with a good friend the other day, and she mentioned that what she remembers most in friendships is the things that take time. The beautiful handwritten card from one friend, another friend sitting with her at the hospital while her son had tests, another baking homemade banana bread every time they caught up.
I drove away from her place pondering this idea, the idea that things that take time, things that are slower often are the things that are more meaningful.
But we are coming up to Christmas, and I don’t know if it’s just me but has the Christmas madness started earlier this year?
Are people already too frantic to exchange pleasantries at the checkout? Are they already too frazzled to drive carefully in the car park?
This year I am craving a slow Christmas: a Christmas of intention and connection; a Christmas of being, not consuming; a Christmas of reflection and not hustle.
For a number of years now I have been reflecting on my previous year and setting intentions for the year to come. In more recent years I have set aside a day to come and see my friend Amanda and go through those reflections in an intentional and structured way.