‘Tis the season to be jolly. Reflections for a more conscious Christmas.

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As we wind down to the end of another big year I plan to retreat to my parent’s in Pringle Bay for peace, rest and reflection. I’ll be donning one of my favourite hoodies – which is like a security blanket to me, and suggest that you Shop Now for one too, as there’s nothing quite like comfort as we move into Christmas.

Pringle Bay is where my parents are, and a place I write about often. I go there throughout the year, and more in the last while as my 89,5-year-old father hasn’t been well. Something that is making this Christmas more precious and appreciated than ever. The focus will be on family and loved ones, yet I won’t be removing myself too much from the conscious living rituals that anchor my life and plan to adopt the following guidelines to ensure that it oozes nothing but goodness.

As opposed to putting my health goals on hold, I plan to stick by them and renew a few that I haven’t had enough time for of late, like my morning yoga. After all ‘tis the season to be jolly, and my happiness comes from time outdoors, walking on the beach, doing some hiking and plenty of stretching and meditation. In between reading and podcasting, preparing food with my mom and daughter and having long conversations with my beloved Dad.

Conscious Gifting

We’ve almost all had a lean year and there is no reason to be overspending this Christmas. As a rule, my family follow the guideline of only gifting something you can wear, use or eat – like a comfy hoodie, excellent book or special bar of chocolate. Working to a budget and being thoughtful regarding what the other may need. There are always specially selected extras as Christmas stocking surprises too, but never anything that’s a ‘waste’ or gimmicky and will simply be discarded.

Of course, shopping can be a nightmare and we are all trying to avoid crowds, which means that I did much of mine online with Superbalist who were running some great specials and have an array of wonderful choices that range from clothing to household and even for pets. I love their Conscious category, and that you can select ‘Made in South Africa’ should you wish. Beyond that consider handcrafted gifts and support small independent stores with a story where possible.

Wrap Thoughtfully

Once I’ve selected the items for my loved ones, I spend an evening carefully wrapping them. I’ve been decorating my own wrapping paper and making my labels for as long as I remember. Often resorting to brown paper with bright ribbon to add colour to the season. When my children were small, we painted the paper ahead of time, which was a fun thing to do. As much as possible make eco-conscious choices with the wrapping, avoid plastic- or plastic-coated paper, the more natural the better. And if any can be reduced, please do. We have an endearing habit of collecting all gift bags and reusing them, and many have done the rounds over the years. Recycle, too.

The Season to be Giving

Giving is the best feeling! And with all the love and loveliness that the holiday season brings, it’s important to remember that many people are alone at this time of year, or will be missing loved ones that they have lost or that can’t visit as a result of travel bans. If you have space at your table invite a neighbour or friend to join you, cook extra and contribute a meal to a community project and if possible, volunteer at a shelter, donate to an animal rescue program – or simply call a friend and tell them you love them.

Self-Care Tips for the Holidays

These tips apply not only to the coming weeks but always, with self-care never more essential. The main areas of self-care being physical, psychological, emotional, social, professional, environmental and spiritual. Movement of the body, health, nutrition, sleep and time out – ideally a digital detox even if only for a few hours. Going for a walk in nature, taking a bath with a book, eating nourishing foods, yoga ( issue Asana Rebel), meditating (I use Headspace) and reflecting in a journal are some of my preferred options. For the mind, try and learn new things, practising mindfulness and creativity such as cooking a new dish or listening to a podcast. Swims in the ocean, nourishing face masks, doing your nails, all wellness rituals that can be done at leisure at this time of year.

Maintain Healthy Habits

As much as possible, follow your usual schedule for meals, exercise and sleep. You might even work in a little extra physical activity. Beach walks which my dogs are what I’m looking forward to. As much as there’ll be more food around than usual, try to eat better, not more. It’s such a mission to get rid of those extra Christmas kilos otherwise, and it defeats the feel-good that comes from downtime. Also hiking up a hill with a heavy tummy is no fun! Nor is waking with a hangover, so I’d suggest keeping the alcohol consumption in check too.

Let your indulgence be an expression of love, not unhealthy living.

Make Memories, Take Family Photographs

My parents moved from the Free State where I grew up to Pringle Bay in the Western Cape about twenty years ago, and Christmas has been at theirs most years since. Gathering on the white picnic table in their front lawn without fail, all dressed up and ready for Christmas dinner, we always take family pics. It’s tradition, and when we look back on the pics over the years the group size varies from almost 20 to smaller groups of 8 or 10 given that not all of our family are in the Cape. Amazing to see how the children have grown over the years. This year will be particularly poignant with my Dad the star of the moment. I recommend this, you’ll treasure the pics and be able to share them far and wide.

Reflect on the year that was

Personally, I will be doing much reflection on the year that was. My mind is bogged down by the last two years of loss that the world has collectively suffered, and our family too. I want to write up a list of things I achieved, happy moments that made my heart sing, and lessons learnt as a way of focussing on the silver linings. These little victories deserve to be celebrated. Alongside that, a list of the people I couldn’t do life without and with whom I’ve never been closer – I owe them my sanity and my gratitude. Looking towards 2022, I will note my goals in my new journal, the wishes and hopes that I plan to manifest and believe into existence. Because I truly believe that the mind can work magic. After all, I’ve seen it happen.

Here’s to the season to be jolly, the time paused to reflect, the comfort of my beloved hoodie and the safety of my parent’s love-filled home. All of my favourite things.

** This post is made possible by Superbalist. Don’t miss out on all of their holiday goodness.

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