Reinventing the season
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Reinventing the season

From InterAction 115, published Winter 2023

Reinventing the season

Society, the media, even our loved ones – all paint a picture of what Christmas is ‘supposed’ to look like. For those who can’t partake easily or at all, the season can be a real struggle.

Giving yourself permission not to do things as you’ve ‘always done’ can be challenging but, once you’ve taken that deep breath of new possibilities, incredibly freeing.

We want to ask:

  • Why do we think Christmas has to be a certain way to be enjoyable?
  • What traditions do you find unhelpful – and what new ones could you invent?
  • How can we look after ourselves during this season?
  • What is genuinely essential? How might you adapt it to be more manageable?

Ideas for an ME-friendly Christmas

  • Pop a poinsettia or mini-Christmas tree (real or fake) by your bed – or perhaps a bowl of baubles or fir cones. If you can tolerate them, put tiny fairy lights in a glass vase for a little bit of sparkle.
  • Listen to an audiobook of seasonal short stories in manageable chunks.
  • Read or listen to a Christmas poem.
  • Listen to a recording of your favourite seasonal song or carol.
  • Get some very simple craft kits that can be picked up and put down easily, or ready-made gingerbread or other biscuits, that you can decorate on a tray on your lap.
  • Watch a favourite Christmas film, in instalments if needed. You can also find ‘slow TV Christmas special’ films, where it’s all about the atmosphere (such as All Aboard: The Sleigh Ride - A Slow Christmas TV Special, originally shown on BBC4).
  • Choose electric candles, or a candle app on your smartphone or tablet, so you don’t worry about falling asleep with a lit candle.

Reflect: How can I make the resting space a sanctuary? What would make me smile during the Winter months?

Natural rhythms

When we pace, we balance activity and rest. Nature, too, paces itself – times of high activity and production, followed by fallow seasons, where living things rest in order to grow at other times of year.

Why not to look to nature for some inspiration? During winter, much is dormant. The focus is on storing up energy for blooming in the next season. Even evergreens don’t flower all year. There is a natural rhythm of rest in nature. How can this inspire us?

Think about: Bulbs under the earth, full of potential. Animals storing food and gradually shutting down to hibernate. Birds puffing out their feathers to stay warm and conserve energy, nestling deep into hedges to find protection from the elements.

Rest becomes restoration.

Read more on reinventing the season in InterAction 115 – join us today to receive your copy three times a year!

On the first day of Christmas, I’ll give myself…

We’ve created a 12 days of Christmas template for you to think about what you could give yourself each day. It can be the gentlest thing – listen to a poem. Have a bath. Look out of the window. It can be nothing at all, a hibernation day – whatever suits you. ME is such a diverse illness. You are the best person to reflect on what you need!

It’s not a rulebook. You can use the calendar for the traditional 12 days after Christmas or you can choose to have those days whenever you like. You can have more days, or fewer. If one idea doesn’t work out, just place an IOU on the calendar and keep the idea for another day. They don’t come with use-by dates!

If you have ideas for your 12 days or general thoughts on how you would like to 'reinvent' Christmas, why not share them on social media using the hashtag #ChristmasforME?