What does Christmas mean to you? It can mean different things to different people, and I know not everyone embraces the season as full on as I do, I’m also aware that if there is sadness in your life that Christmas can elevate this. However I do believe that the winter would be very long, dark and dull without the sparkle that Christmas brings. I also believe that Christmas, or the ‘Holidays’ as some prefer to call it, crosses the boundary of religion, and it has become a season itself, where people take a little time out to enjoy being with their loved ones.
Take a little time to think about your own Christmas memories. You know the kind of memories I mean, the ones that make you smile and feel warm inside. Allow me to share my own Christmas childhood memories with you. Growing up I had the best of both worlds, my home was in the Dublin suburbs, so I had all the conveniences of city life, but my grandparents lived in a small county town, and we spent all of our holidays there, enjoying the freedom of county life. Every Christmas Eve we would pack up the car with presents, toys, suitcases, food and our dog Timmy, and make the journey to Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan.
On Christmas Eve we attended the mid-night service, and it was a treat for us, as children, to be allowed to stay up so late. We walked to the church, in the freezing cold, our breaths visible in front of us, but we were wrapped up in our new winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves all matching, our new shoes as shinny as the light in our excited eyes. Every house in the town had candles lighting in the windows, net curtains billowing behind them. It was magical. We met our friends and neighbours as we walked through the town, the children talking excitedly about what Santa was going to bring that night.
As we entered the church we could hear the choir sing ‘Oh holy night’ and the smell of incense and pine filled the air. At the top of the church the enormous Christmas tree shone brightly, while the rest of the church shimmered with candle light. We made our way to the crib, and took a piece of straw from it to place in our purse or wallet for good luck.
I never questioned the fact that my grandfather always left the church before the service had finished, and by the time we arrived back to my grandparents’ house Santa had already been and our presents were waiting for us under the tree. I was an adult, a parent myself, before I made the connection between my grandfather living church early and Santa arriving while we were at church. As a parent I have kept up old traditions and made some new ones, that I hope that my sons will carry on when they too become parents.
I hope you too have beautiful Christmas memories. I hope my memories have sparked some for you. But let me ask you this, are you remembering the turkey, the ham, the cake and pudding, the chocolates and biscuits? The food we eat is a small part of this wonderful holiday season. Yes it plays a part, it is joyful to gather around the family table and share a meal, but it is a small part. Do not give food any more importance than it deserves, do not give it power over you, and never allow food to determine your mood. Food has a role, that role is to give us nutrition and energy, let’s not give food a leading role in our lives.
Let me ask you another question, are you remembering how clean your skirting boards were, how the windows gleamed or how wonderful it was that the rooms were painted on time? These things are insignificant. Don’t spend the lead up to Christmas stressing yourself out on tasks that are not important, instead have coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, visit an elderly person who is in need of some company, or sit for a while and read a Christmas story to a child. I couldn’t tell you if my skirting boards are clean or if my windows gleam, but I can tell you that my house is sparkling with fairy lights and decorations, fun and laughter, and that is what makes a house shine at Christmas.
When I decided to coach people to lose fat and become fit, I knew that I could help people to change their lives. I also knew that I could only be myself and not be the sergeant major type who shouts and roars to motivate. Nor could I ever criticize or judge my clients because I know the emotions that are associated with eating and food and with weight. I’ve been through them all. When I was at my heaviest weight, it was the darkest time in my life. I decided that the type of coach that I wanted to be was a coach who could show you the light. I motivate with encouragement and I teach by inspiring.
There may be a moment, when it all gets a little too much for you over the next week, and you may feel frazzled and in danger of turning to food for comfort, and if that happens I want you to find a quiet place, light a candle and just be. Give yourself time to breathe, to be at peace and to become the light in your own life.
Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year.
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