Ghost of Christmas Past

The holiday season is steeped in memories and traditions. Whether you love this time of year or barely tolerate it, reliably, it arrives every year.

The meaning we attach to this season and our expectations colours our experience. This is true for the holiday season, and for life in general.

As we’ve reminisced about Christmas’ past, sharing memories, talking about the cast of characters who’ve graced our lives, our family has recognized the changes that have come over the years.

Old traditions have given way to new ones, as our family has changed and grown.

As young parents, Tom and I negotiated how to blend our two family’s traditions into those that held most meaning for us. In the early years, I decorated our home, and endeavoured to create a joy-filled and happy experience for our children.

By outward appearances, people thought I loved the season. I did not. I did what I thought was expected of me for the children. I guess it turned out well, as our daughters love the season and all it represents, and are filled with fond memories of Christmas’ past.

As the girls grew, I lost touch with the joy of the holidays. I cringe when holiday decorations appear right after Halloween, and feel an inner resistance.

Why the heck do people need to decorate so early?

It turns out those who enjoy decorating early do so because it touches happy childhood memories. These joyful memories, via the body-mind connection, cause a secretion of beneficial hormones and chemicals throughout their bodies, bolstering their health and happiness during the time of lowest light.

According to cell biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton, much of our subconscious memory is created by the time we’re eight years old. Until the age of eight, a child is downloading data, not thinking or questioning, just accepting information as truth.

Many of the beliefs and attitudes we have about life arise from childhood experiences and programming, and these can be running more of the show than we’re consciously aware of.

The holiday season touches magical memories for many people, but for others it may touch difficult and painful memories they’re not consciously aware of. I know adults who continue to hate the holidays because of what happened in their childhood.

That’s a heavy price to pay for the unskilled actions of others. But change is possible, once we become aware.

It’s enlightening to realize many of the limiting beliefs and preferences creating my experience are the result of information stored in my subconscious mind, laid down by the time I was eight years old.

Awareness is curative. As I become aware everything I think and believe is not necessarily the truth, I can make a conscious choice to rewrite the script of my life.

Who the heck wants their child-mind at the helm of their life?

I know I don’t, and have chosen to use different strategies to weed out those beliefs and tendencies that make life difficult.

While I’m still in the process of removing limiting beliefs, and likely will be until I make my transition, I know progress has been made. Through the use of self-reflection and mindfulness, as well as other helpful tools, I’ve started to rewrite my script of life.

One practice I’ve found most helpful are two words inherent in the holiday season: present and presence. Bringing ourselves fully present to the moment we are in, really seeing and noticing what’s happening right now, is a powerful act of rebellion toward our childhood conditioning.

This moment, right now, is the only moment that actually exists. It is from this moment of now that I create the next, and the next, and the next. I put new information into my subconscious mind.

I love the saying, “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.”

It reminds me to be here now, to experience what’s really happening, free from the filters of the past or concern for the future.

Hearing what’s actually happening now, feeling, seeing, tasting what’s happening in this moment liberates us from tethers of the past and concerns of the future.

Connecting with people, giving them my full presence, as I dismiss the ever-present dialogue and to-do list of my mind, and really paying attention has opened up new possibility and potential.

Taking life in, as it is, not as it was as a child, has created space for me to find new meaning, new tradition, and new joy in this holiday season.

If there’s one gift I’d love to give people, it is the gift of presence; being in the present moment. It is only here we experience the gift and the magic of life.


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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