Stop. Set aside the frantic Christmas preparations for a moment. And breathe.
Yes, we know how many days until it's here. TV commercials are shouting; insidious carols are swarming through shop sound systems; Paul Little is writing about how to have a "woke" Christmas; the advent calendar is more than half done.
• How long it takes Kiwis to pay off debt after Christmas
• Sinead In The City: How to survive Christmas when life is not a romcom
• The Queen's $60k Christmas gift list
• Expert reveals: The biggest Christmas tree decorating mistakes
Breathe. The Mental Health Foundation estimates more than a quarter of New Zealanders – 29 per cent – feel added financial and social stresses during the festive season.
And it is so unnecessary.
Later in life we may recall that special Christmas gift - a first bicycle; an on-trend toy that made our mates jealous; the perfume; the socks; the inexplicable plastic object from the Christmas cracker. But those objects will soon be gone. So too will the meals we rushed about gathering and trying to make perfect. Fed to the dog or composted. More often, we'll remember times spent with family and friends.
We know the spirit of Christmas is not found in a bottle or a box, tied with a bow. Yet again we find ourselves swept along by the headlong rush to over-extend ourselves - to over-eat, over-drink, over-spend.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
The answer to all this Christmas rush is where we get lucky - once we stop, and breathe.
Plan to spend - not so much money - but time with nature. We are all blessed with access, even if it's a pocket park at the end of the street. During the lead-up to Christmas, the pōhutukawa bloom, the sun shines more, and the days are longer. Inhale. Deeply, deeply, deeply.
Kids are excited, swept along by the hype and the hysteria. Once you have your heart rate steady, help ease their agitation, too. Manage their expectations by focusing on the fun they will have, rather than the things they will get. Christmas is feeling rapt, not in the act of unwrapping.
By all means, give. The act of giving is felt more by the giver than the receiver. But give the most precious things of all - your time, your attention, your care, give of yourself. Give until it heals.