This time last year I had a Christmas Crisis.

As the anticipation of Christmas seemed to grow around us, so did my anxiety. Everywhere we looked, Christmas abound. Parties, celebrations, end of year get togethers, Santa visits and endless presents. The day hadn’t even arrived and I found my family consumed in a crazy cycle.

A season traditionally filled with joy and giving fast became a vehicle of materialism and commercial exploitation. The mystery and magic of Santa disappeared. Instead it had been kidnapped by the marketing world as a means to manipulate my precious children and their vulnerability.

The last straw came after a morning outing when my then four year old announced that he needed to visit Santa to tell him that his playmate was not to receive any Christmas presents – ever! He had had a disagreement with his friend and felt justified in demanding such a sentence as fit punishment.

A brief visit to a shopping centre sent my son into a hyperactive spin! His inability to process the copious amounts of decorations, people and hype left him jumping as he held my hand through the crowds. He could not contain the stimulation. I felt the same and made for the closest exit.

I had a need to protect my children from such manipulation and found this difficult to juggle with my desire to maintain a family tradition of togetherness and giving. How do I juggle both – is it possible? Do I want to? How do I undo a well intentioned introduction of Santa without shattering his fantasy world and imagination?

Christmas day arrived and we struggled to hold our extended family’s desire to swamp our children with generosity. Whilst an honourable quality it became overwhelming.

The saddest realisation was that we, as parents had allowed this to happen.

We had allowed our ideals to be compromised. We had let go of our desires for our small children to appease others. We had allowed the ‘Christmas Spirit’ to invade our values.

In a season that is supposed to be full of joy and happiness, I saw a lot of sad and angry people. The pressure to buy puts strain on family budgets and the pressure to participate can make us feel we are cheating our children if we don’t.

On reflection we examined what we really wanted our children to get out of Christmas. What we wanted to teach them and how we wanted Christmas to unfold in our family. We thought through new traditions we wanted to create and hoped our commitment would hold through to the coming year.

To us Christmas is an opportunity to practice kindness and compassion. It is a time to care for those around us and spend time with precious family and friends. It is a time to make presents and share our love with those who are close.

I admire my friends who have the courage and insight to honour their desires for Christmas and work with their families to achieve it. They are a constant inspiration to me in the way they negotiate the maze of commercialism and family pressure.

As the year comes to an end it is a time of reflection. A time to give thanks and express appreciation to those who have journeyed with us throughout the year. It is a time to be in togetherness, to nurture and to hold a space of quiet enjoyment.

So the results of our Christmas Crisis – a new plan. Evolved from last year’s learnings we endeavoured to shift the paradigm and create a tradition in our home that is balanced and caring. A tradition that honours our own values and respects those of others. One that allows for the enjoyment of all.

Wishing you and your family abundant love and connection this Christmas.