Christmas shopping is something I genuinely enjoy doing. As much as it can be annoying at times with swarms of people everywhere and not a parking spot in sight it doesn’t feel like Christmas without those things.
I worked in retail for six Christmas’. It was by far the craziest time of the year. The long hours and late night shifts where it felt like the line of people would never end. I worked at Target as a sales assistant in the lingerie department and I swear there were always more pairs of underwear on the floor that on the racks. For every one thing we picked up, ten more things would fall down. it was so much easier to laugh at the chaos than complain.
I loved listening to the Christmas carols on repeat, wearing my daggy work Christmas t-shirt and getting to see my friends nearly every night at work. My favourite shift of all by far was the overnight trade on the 23rd of December. Starting work at 12am and finishing at 8am was always an interesting shift. Having a break at three o’clock and having no concept of what day it is and if we should be eating or just downing more coffee. I remember many Christmas Eves just being asleep on the couch, so exhausted from the night before.
Working in retail really showed me what the gift of giving is. Seeing so many people, taking time out of their busy schedules to buy things for their loved ones. I loved helping customers choose things for their family (in other departments not mine) and when they would come back and tell me how much they loved them. It really warms my heart.
In my opinion Christmas shopping can be viewed in two lights. One it could be just another thing to add to the to do list or two, it could be seen as a beautiful thing to do for a person you appreciate. I love taking time to think of presents to buy ot make for others, it really does bring me so much joy. In addition to presents, however, it may come as no surprise that I love to bake. Last week we had our work Christmas party. In addition to my KK gift I made my KK peanut butter and M&M cookies. I think he liked the cookies more than the present.
For the last few years at Christmas I have spent hours in the kitchen (my happy place) baking lots of different cookies and truffles. I usually make five types. I then get little boxes from the $2 shop with a bit of tissue paper and fill them with goodies for my friends and family. There is something about making something at home and sharing it that is truly special. I can’t explain how excited I was when Bruno came over last week with traditional Christmas biscuits his mum and nonna had made.
My nonna is the one that has really inspired my love for cooking and sharing, particularly at this time of the year. Every year the week before Christmas I go to her house and help her make our traditional Christmas cakes, struffoli and pizzafigliata. When I was really young I was purely there to watch and learn (I wouldn’t dare touch anything). As I got older I got a few tiny jobs to help. It wasn’t until two years ago that I got allotted some serious jobs because nonna hurt her shoulder and couldn’t physically do it. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. She is such a perfectionist and I knew if I messed up the famous Christmas cakes I’d be in trouble. Luckily, we nailed them. She always makes enough to give one to each of her children’s families and to all her close friends. One of the beautiful things about this kind of sharing is that she gets things back also. Her friend Victoria makes the most divine fruit cake that my family always looks forward to every year.
Last Christmas was the first one I got to share with my boyfriend and his family. it was so exciting to be part of new traditions. He told me of one that he wants to make his tradition, doughnuts. The year before we started dating he made them and he was determined to do it again last year. I remember getting to his house on Christmas morning and being greeted by a wave of commotion as the doughnut making took place. He made enough for my whole extended family and his own (close to 40 doughnuts). His sister Joanne and I definitely bonded on that day as we stood there in the kitchen with chocolate all over our hands attempting to stuff the doughnuts and not burst them by putting in too much filling. It was actually hilarious. We giggled as we struggled and tried not to get caught messing them up by Bruno who had spent so much time perfecting the shape of them. My family were thrilled when he showed up with a tray of doughnuts. I think we have decided that this year it will be a Christmas Eve thing to save the stress on Christmas morning.
Giving doesn’t necessarily need to be an extravagant gift, it can be food or a card written from the heart. I love Christmas cards and take a lot of time every year to write something really meaningful to the people I love. It is also a great opportunity to say thank you for the people in your life for what they do. Whether it be your hairdresser, your chiropractor or your boss. The key is to give from the heart, never expecting anything in return. When you give from the bottom of your heart and you are happy to do it, that feeling when you see the other person really happy is the greatest gift of them all.
Christmas shouldn’t be a time of stress; it should be a time of joy. Obviously as the 25th of December creeps up some anxiety can kick in if you feel like you will not have enough time to get everything done. When I am feeling like this I hand write a list. I put on some carols and just write down everything that needs to get done and prioritise the list. Once you have written down exactly what needs to get done, the idea isn’t floating around your head. It allows you to put things into perspective and work out a realistic way to get things done.
Remember, the world isn’t going to end if you don’t get the ‘perfect’ gift or the cookies you have baked are a little more golden than anticipated. It really is the thought that counts. I believe that at this time of the year it is so important to appreciate not only what others do for us but to also give ourselves grace and commend ourselves for all we have done. We can get so caught up in thanking others that we forget just how much we have achieved for ourselves. From time to time I do like to commend myself for getting through a tough week or accomplishing something that once seemed near impossible. Treating ourselves with love will give us even more love to pass onto others this Christmas.
"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!