Even if it’s going to be very different this year, in December everything revolves around Christmas. Buying presents, planning menus, visiting family — yet this year all of this will almost be water under the bridge. The questions we’re dealing with in these days are completely different ones, like: will Christmas be taking place at all? And if it does, how?
This is a hotly disputed topic with us at Humanoo as well. That is why we decided to dedicate this whole month to the topic of #coronachristmas. In the first article, we looked at what effect corona will have on the Christmas season and how that will affect us, specifically in these times of social distancing.
Today we will look inward again, as Christmas is a time of reflection, after all. We would like to find out what remains of the year 2020 after all this turbulence, how we have changed, and whether the pandemic has perhaps brought us a little bit closer to the answer to the question of what is really, really important in life?
How to reflect and get into the Christmas spirit
This is a time for reflection and contemplation, but let’s be honest: how much contemplation and reflection have we been experiencing at Christmas over the last few years? Instead of tranquillity and harmony around the Christmas tree, we are driven by stress and hectic activity. At work, the year-end stress is approaching, and after work we rush to do Christmas shopping, just to end up ordering a voucher in the evening, unsatisfied. We quickly bake cookies on Christmas morning while the rest of the family hands out gifts — and we wonder where it’s gone to, the beautiful Christmas atmosphere and the feeling of reflection and contemplation?
Yet what exactly is this contemplation, or reflection?
Basically, we associate it with a warm feeling of solemnity, calm, thoughtfulness, and seclusion. A contemplative atmosphere is also relaxed, without hectic rushing around, and it allows us to experience those feelings. Maybe right now you’re thinking of a place that personifies this mood for you? This could be — especially at Christmas — a church, a place in nature, or, as in meditation, an imaginary place.
If the framework conditions are in place, we can be contemplative. What exactly happens to us then? We come to rest, and in this restful state, thoughts can arise. We can enter a state of self-reflection, i.e., dive deeper into our innermost being. What then appears before our inner eye may be questions that go beyond our everyday existence, and that delve deeper, such as: am I content? What do I need in order to be happy? And what, for me personally, makes life worth living?
Even if all of us have been familiar with this state of mind at some point in our lives, it is especially Christmas — the time of contemplation, as we said — that invites us to immerse ourselves completely and extensively in this reflectiveness. The reason for this is that most of the year is behind us, we’ve ‘made it’ and can use the holiday to put some distance between us and our daily routine. We review what we’ve experienced and draw a ‘line’ under the year. And let’s be honest — we desperately want to draw a line under this particular year.
Will this be the ‘most contemplative’ of all Christmases ever?
2020 has not been a year like any other for any of us — because the coronavirus has turned our normal life as we know it upside down and given it a vigorous shake — both professionally and privately. We are having to live with limitations that we could never have imagined and become acquainted with a ‘new normal’ — from having to wear a face mask to social distancing and working from home.
When we talk about our personal ‘corona year’ here at Humanoo, everyone has their own story to tell: we hear of frustrations over canceled celebrations, fear of being alone, being overwhelmed by home schooling, and lack of motivation in the home office — and last but not least, worrying about the older people in the family. You, too, will have your very own story to tell.
What connects us is that we all have a whole lot of difficult moments to look back on. And as if the year hadn’t been hard enough already, after all the social distancing we are having to stay away from our loved ones at Christmas as well.
The holidays and the end of the year, as much as we long for them, will probably not be leaving us in a celebratory mood, but certainly in a thoughtful one. That is why we are asking ourselves: after everything we have experienced this year, is this Christmas perhaps going to be the most contemplative ‘celebration’ of all time? Lockdown silence instead of consumer noise — are we finally getting to the point where we really reflect on things?
Does it make sense or not? Let’s reflect on the right things.
The question of what is really important in life is a huge one. But if we take a closer look at what will remain after we draw a line under 2020, we will, perhaps, get a little closer to the answer.
Self-isolation, quarantine, lockdown — we’ve had to get used to these concepts as well as to the oppressive feelings that these previously unknown situations have evoked in us. We have been forced to engage more with ourselves and our emotional world — away from everyday life, which usually has enough distractions to keep us occupied. It really hasn’t felt good, but it’s had an upside as well: we’ve been thrown back to what is really important and it has helped us separate the essentials in life from the non-essentials.
We should not need a pandemic to make it clear to us that our health is the most important thing we have. But in this case it’s specifically our health that has been threatened — and not only our own, but also that of our loved ones — even that of our entire society. The sense of threat has become real — supported by the images from hospitals around the world and the real sense of concern for our families and friends. But what are we left with? We have become aware once again of how valuable and fundamental it is to know that we and our loved ones are healthy and well. ‘We’re in this together’ — being aware of this situation has connected us and bound us to one another. From the crisis, we’ve managed to draw the strength to trigger a wave of solidarity. Whether providing a shopping service, neighbourhood help, or donations to local businesses — we have become creative in all the nooks and crannies and joined hands to create solutions as a community. We’ve come closer together, offered help, and taken responsibility — for one another and with one another.
Being connected — even at a distance. The restriction on contact has forced us to choose which close circle of family and friends we want to see. A challenging task — as was the imperative not to visit the elderly in the family for an indefinite period of time. But we have become creative with, and especially because of, the oppressive feelings — whether by doing video calls with our grandparents, going for long walks with friends, or Zoom dinners with colleagues, we have practised making the best of the situation. And in this way, suddenly the small encounters have appeared more important than they used to.
Even though corona has taken a lot from us, it has also given us the chance to gain something new: more flexibility to adapt to constantly changing situations and to make the most of them.
More serenity in the face of all the challenges, large and small, that this pandemic has confronted us with.
More gratitude for things that we probably took for granted.
Becoming more aware of the small beautiful things that we are too quick to overlook in the rush of everyday life.
And perhaps also a little more ‘reflection’ on what we really need in order to lead a happy, fulfilled life — because we don’t actually need that much.
And now over to you: what is important to you ?
We now invite you to make these thoughts of ours your own and to review your own 2020. Make a conscious effort to take some time for yourself, and don’t be afraid to let unpleasant memories and feelings arise — because it’s only when we look very carefully, and dare to really ‘feel’ that we become stronger and able to start the new year with more strength and mindfulness.
We are curious about how it will go for you and what you can personally reflect on.
Would you like us to accompany you? Our programme ‘Inner Peace Through Meditation’ on our app will help you to become more centred and to look inwards. Have a look at our Daily Tips as well, where you’ll find your daily dose of well-being and useful tips for the end of the year.
With this in mind: make this Christmas your most contemplative one ever!
Your Humanoo team