Christmas is Coming! Make It a Season for All of the Senses
When you get a diagnosis of macular degeneration - even if you currently do not have any vision impairment - the tendency is to think about all the things you may not be able to see now or in the future.
I think that the Christmas season is a perfect time to remind yourself that even though your vision is impaired or you fear it will be, you have other senses that work together to engage your imagination, bring back good memories, and make new ones. It’s a holiday that combines all of them into what can be a special experience. To make this possible, I believe we have to practice mindfulness.
You are sitting comfortably outdoors feeling very relaxed. There’s a warm breeze gently blowing across your skin. It’s night, but it’s not dark because there are bright, twinkling holiday lights everywhere. You can smell something that makes your mouth water. You wonder, "Are they cinnamon rolls?" You hear the happy laughter of children who are dancing in front of you. They are wearing their best Christmas clothes. There’s live Christmas music everywhere around you - they are playing your favorite songs. You are sipping on a warm mug of hot chocolate with just a touch of peppermint. The steam from it is tickling your nose.
You’ve been waiting for the fireworks and laser show which is about to begin. Yes, here they are and they are incredible! Every part of what's in front of you is lit up and casting colors onto everyone and everything. You find yourself joining others in oohing and aahing!
Where were you?
You could be in any number of places during the holiday season to have that experience because it seems that every town where Christmas is celebrated has special activities for us to enjoy, so we don't have to go far.
You’ve heard the expression “Be here now!”, right? That’s what mindfulness is. It’s stopping everything else and paying attention to what’s going on NOW...right this very minute. Most of us don’t spend enough time in the ‘here and now.’ Our minds are turning over our worries, and we’re trying to do several things at a time without paying attention to any of them.
I think that Christmastime is the perfect time to practice mindfulness. We can enjoy all of our senses: sights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations.
When you were young, did you ever lie down on the floor under the Christmas tree and look up at the lights among the branches? I did! I remember closing my eyes a little to get the lights to blur into one big beautiful vision. Some of you are thinking, “I don’t have to do anything to blur what I’m looking at!” It may be the only time this is a good thing! 😀 Go ahead and look at a Christmas tree, yours or another, with the intention of creating a big, colorful, blurred image. Take your time. Let it wash over you.
Of course, there’s Christmas music everywhere we go. I think it started before Halloween, or at least it seems earlier and earlier each year.
Do you have a favorite Christmas song or songs? I like to hear the bells of the wonderful people who collect money for the Salvation Army. If you attend church, does it have a choir or handbell ringers? Are there carolers?
There are so many wonderful food smells, ones that make your mouth water. What’s your favorite? Turkey roasting, pies baking, bread baking, pine needles on the Christmas tree? Cinnamon on the eggnog? My mother used to make cinnamon rolls (from scratch, of course) for Christmas morning breakfast. The smell alone would have us racing to the table!
Can you safely light some candles with scents of the season such as pine or cinnamon? I recently got a wreath and centerpiece made of fresh pine, but they didn't really have enough pine scent for me, so I bought it in a spray bottle instead. Now they smell perfect! 😀
Hugs and handshakes are always special, but there’s something special about them at Christmas. You may only see some of your loved ones once a year so make those hugs and handshakes good enough to last!
If you can sit by a fire, do you feel the heat on your skin? Do you have a live Christmas tree? Run your hands over the needles and feel the texture. When you are outside, notice the temperature. Is it too cold or not enough? Some people want Christmas to be cold with snow on the ground. Me, I can do without it! 😀
There are just so many wonderful tastes, aren’t there? The cinnamon rolls my mother made for Christmas morning breakfast? They had just the perfect amount of cinnamon with loads of sweet frosting drizzled over them. Gives 'finger licking good' a different meaning!
Eat slowing, mindfully. What are your favorite flavors?
- Peppermint in candy canes
- Pumpkin pie and pumpkin-spiced flavored coffee drinks
- Cranberry sauce
- Stuffing or dressing
- Wine, maybe mulled with spices
- Hot chocolate, maybe with peppermint flavoring
A season for the senses
I hope that during this Christmas season you will find renewed gratitude for them.
I'd love to hear how this goes for you. Do you have any other sights, smells, sensations, tastes, sounds that you'd like to add?
I wish you and yours a Blessed, Merry Christmas!
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