This issue Bernie Petrie asks… Do you treat Christmas as a one day event counting down the days and then on Boxing Day hear yourself say the fateful words – “That’s it. It’s all over for a another year”. Or do you savour the build up, and make your own traditions?

Christmas traditions; the hugs and kisses, getting to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again and again, feasting on post-Christmas dinner turkey sandwiches, fires, lots of beach walks, old movies and board games. It’s also savouring the prospect of new beginnings, the not knowing what next year will bring, the Looney Dook (especially, here in North Berwick!). But before that, the pause, the suspension of time itself. And, just as we relish putting up the Christmas decorations, we also need to enjoy the feeling of putting them away and breathing in the fresh  space of our pine-needle free home.

As I write this column I’m really ready to let Christmas in! I’ve enjoyed feeling the buzz build inside my tummy as we celebrated Halloween. But it hasn’t always been this way, I used to feel stressed and annoyed at the ‘build-up’ to the festive season. So if you’re struggling to let Christmas in, here are six tips that might help it feel a bit better.

1. Giving and receiving presents can be an emotional challenge. Remember to breathe, trust your instincts, not your comparison voice and it will feel a lot more wholesome. It really is the thought that counts. Your presence with someone is also a priceless gift.

2. Celebrate the joy of Christmas and say ‘Merry Christmas’ as often as possible. Let your joy infect others, you’re here, you’re living, the past is past – rejoice in that.

3. Giving a meaningful gift (bought locally) to someone you don’t normally buy for, feels really good. And if you receive a gift unexpectedly from someone, receive it with love.

4. Focus on rituals which make you feel better, but hold them loosely in your hand, as what worked in the past, may need to be tweaked.

5. Keep focusing on the questions; ‘How do I want my Christmas to feel?’ and ‘How do I want my life in 2017 to feel?’. Let this guide you to the best actions you need to take.

6. Finally, remember Christmas is a time to give but also a time to allow! Allow people to spread their festive cheer, help with the decorations, the tree, the cooking, the buying, the receiving, the ‘rituals’.

This year, turn over a new leaf, let go of obligation and guilt, by allowing yourself to acknowledge how you want to feel this Christmas. I believe it needs to feel good to give, and if it does, it will feel good to give and the giving will feel more abundant.

They really do say it for a good reason – “Tis the season to be jolly fa la la la la la la la…” With love and warmest Christmas wishes and a healthy, peaceful and joyous New Year.

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