(1) Christmas (2) Spend time with me

Joanne Te Paiho, December 2011

(1)Tena Koutou. As Christmas comes a knocking, there may be a myriad of thoughts and feelings associated with this festive time of the year for you. Ideally we may all like Christmas to be a joyous time, one to be lapped up with fun and excitement, as the tree is decorated, the whanau gathers, and traditional food is prepared, this is a time to be savoured. During this festive time, the hustle and bustle of life slows down, with work for most finishing for the year, everyone is available to just be in the moment and be with each other. Gifts are carefully chosen and wrapped and spill out from beneath the Christmas tree, awaiting the magical morning of Christmas Day ... BUT ... the reality check for many is that this just isn't how it is going to be, as so many other things overshadow this nostalgic time. Many whanau, already struggling to make ends meet, may be experiencing the whole financial worry around how Christmas will happen. Some may be experiencing Christmas day for the first time without a loved one who may have passed during the year. Parents managing separation for the first time may be feeling anxious about who will have the children and how will it all work out. Others may be concerned about loved ones ... alcohol consumption rising as the onset of the so-called silly season arrives. With this may bring concerns of whanau members acting out of their unwise place and becoming violent. This time of the year can highlight and magnify what isn't working in an individual's life. While all year round they may have consumed their lives with work and busyness, this quiet sitting still time, may bring about some mixed emotion. This mixed emotion could be for numerous reasons, maybe around being alone, and life not quite being all that they may have hoped for. The ending of another year where they may feel as though nothing has changed in their world, may also bring about some uncomfortable feelings and emotions. And for some, negative memories of childhood Christmases may return, bringing about some post-traumatic stress reactions, which can be a real challenge. Just to see Christmas decorations up in shops, or the sound of Christmas music can be a real struggle. Whilst not wanting to dampen the spirits of those readers who are fortunate to experience Christmas as a beautiful time of the year, we can't ignore that for some this just isn't how it is. So how can we all help to lift this special time of the year for those whose reality isn't so bright? What Christmas gifts might we all bring to those around us whom we know, are struggling. Perhaps if you know of someone who will be spending Christmas alone, put out a warm invitation for them to join you. Maybe check where you might be able to donate gifts and get on board supporting a food bank if you never have before. Make your Christmas gifts this year count. Gifts aren't all about material things; we can offer the gifts of sharing, love, patience, caring, kindness, and most of all TIME, these to me are the most important gifts we could ever impart to others at this time of the year. I put out a challenge to you all to really make a difference in some one's Christmas experience this year.

Naku te rourou, nau te rourou,
Ka ora ai te iwi

If you are a parent needing support during this time, just drop in and see us here at Parentline, in Community House or give us a call on 355 1655. We are available until the 22nd of December.

Nga Mihi Kia Koutou
Jo Te Paiho

(2)Tena Koutou, Just before I farewell you for another year, I want to leave you all with a parting gift. This is a piece I came across today, titled, "From the Kids".

Spend time with me. Enjoy me.
Tell me what you like about me.
Help me find the words to tell you how I feel.
Help me feel big and proud.
Honour my feelings.
Tell me clearly what you want from me.
Be firm. Say no. I depend on you to set limits for me.
Let me know you still love me, when you don't like what I do.
Keep me safe when you get mad at me.
Let me learn by trying things.
Comfort me, when trying makes me cross.
Say sorry when you're wrong.
Show me it really is okay to make mistakes.
Coach me. I learn how to act by copying you.
It's my job to be the kid.
I need you to be the grown up.

During, what can be an extremely frazzled and busy time, leading up to Christmas Day, and with the School holidays having just arrived, I'd invite you all to take heed of this beautiful piece of writing. Allow this gift to really sit on your hearts, particularly if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Your little people won't understand your stress, so slow down where you can. Looking after yourself through the Festive Season will help you to feel more resourced and equipped to parent from your wise place within. From me and the Team here at Parentline Manawatu, we wish you all a safe journey through the Christmas and New Year Break. We are closed from the 23rd of December through to the 11th of January.

Nga Mihi Kia Koutou
Jo Te Paiho