A number of years ago, shortly before Christmas, I remember talking to my sister on the phone. 'I've bought myself a camera,' she said with some glee, 'a really nice one.'
'Oh,' says I, thinking of my frantic schedule of buying presents for other people, 'that's nice.'
I must have done a poor job of concealing my slightly censorious surprise because she went on to explain that she always bought herself a Christmas present.
'It means that even if all the ones I'm given are disappointing, I can be sure of getting at least one really nice one!'
What a fabulous idea, I thought, could be applied more widely, indeed much more widely!
I was reminded of that story by a woman I met recently. In her mid sixties, she does a rewarding but extremely busy job distributing people's unwanted clothes and furniture to refugees. During the course of the conversation I asked her, as one does, what she was doing for Christmas. She immediately looked guilty. 'Well,' she said, 'I usually go to my daughter's for Christmas, she has three children, but this year I'm afraid I've given everyone a shock.' She paused. 'I've told my daughter that I'll come up and see everyone the weekend before Christmas but that I'm not coming for Christmas.' She looked as though the police might burst in any moment to arrest her for crimes against The Family. 'She wasn't very pleased,' she said. 'The thing is,' she rushed to explain, 'I am SO tired. I need some peace and I just haven't got the energy for a family Christmas.'
'So what are you going to do?' I asked. I'm afraid that nosiness is a prerequisite of being a therapist or coach. 'I've told everyone I'm going on a retreat,' she said, 'but actually I'm just going to go home and close the door.' She smiled.
This was her Christmas present to herself.
What Christmas present would you like to give to yourself this year?
It might be some peace and quiet, an indulgent or exciting purchase, a day out, not doing everything perfectly, twenty minutes to meditate everyday, a lie in, a phone call to an old friend on Christmas day, complete silence during the Queens speech, watching the Downton Abbey Christmas special, a holiday from worrying about someone or something that's been on your mind, some company, something delicious to eat, a long walk, a warm fire, a break from your diet, not arguing with the person you usually argue with, planning a holiday, allowing Marks and Spencer to make Christmas dinner easier, doing exactly what you want on Boxing Day.....
Plan and execute!
Wishing you a very Happy Christmas.