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Calming Christmas Rituals

Darling Health Psychologist Jacqui Manning

When my dear Aunty Ruth died in the UK a few years ago, aside from my immediate grief was the realisation I wouldn’t be receiving my annual Christmas card and cheque from her. Every year for (birthdays and) Christmas she would send a newsy card and include a cheque so I could buy something I’d like. It wasn’t the money that was special but the connection of receiving her kindness, stories and presence, knowing she had sat down in her cosy loungeroom and thought about me. The man at the bank asked me about a decade ago if she did internet banking yet, but I was glad she didn’t as the ritual of receiving her physical card meant it was almost time for Christmas (she was always early!) and that she was with me, even though she lived on the other side of the globe.

What are the rituals you enjoy at Christmas? And if you don’t have any, is this the year to introduce some to you and your loved ones?

The ritual of gifts can be seen as commercialism, and it does have the tendency to get out of hand (I personally object to Christmas decorations going up in the shops in October!!). Yet, the giving of gifts is a surprisingly complex and important part of human interaction, helping to strengthen your connection and even define your relationships. It is often the giver who gets the biggest gains from giving a gift!

If you’re following the ritual of gift-giving this year, consider the following to keep it manageable, especially after a year where we have all felt the ‘pinch’;

  • Handmade gifts – get creative and make jars of bath salts, a preserve, something artistic.

  • Focus on those relationships you want to stay connected with – you don’t have to have a massive list!

  • Go the Kris Kringle option if you have a big family/group – it means you can focus on the one gift and won’t be overstretched or overspend.

  • Offer to do an experience with them – perhaps you don’t see each other very often so you can make a card detailing plans for a special day out together.

  • For your own gift list: ask your loved ones for gifts meaningful to you – it might be a coupon for time alone or other treats you may not often receive like breakfast in bed or a foot massage.

Make emotional self-care part of your 2024 ritual and book a session in with Jacqui Manning for the New Year!

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