Tis the season.

That time to celebrate Christmas has rolled around again. I’m of the school that believes, with much biblical and historical certainty, that the birth date of Christ isn’t December 25th but rather, in warmer months, so not much spirituality involved in this holiday for me. Nevertheless, it’s always been one of my favourite holidays – even without the snow you oft see in Hollywood movies during this period.

I like the fact that families make it a point to spend time together. Young families get the kids involved in Christmas arts and crafts from creating DIY ornaments to decorate the tree, to crayoning greeting cards for extended family members. Older families with grown children take the opportunity to call them home for a good dinner around the table, and everyone updates each other on what’s happening in their lives.

I like the custom of gift-giving. Yes, it’s pretty much a commercial tradition, but no, I don’t agree that gift-giving should be seen as a mandatory chore, nor should one give gifts into bankruptcy. But see, even the task of creating that shopping list gives a great chance for you to count your blessings – the loved ones in your life. It’s sort of an excuse to buy something meaningful for them, a little “thank you for being here this year” kind of present. I like thinking of what to get people cuz it’s a good way to “take stock”. If I can’t figure out what to buy for someone, then clearly I’ve not been spending enough time with them! Time to do something about that next year! (This then goes on your list of resolutions for the new year, but that’s another tale for another time.)

I like the Christmas hampers. Mmmm. When I was young, Christmas was the one time in a year  my father would come home with a fancy gift basket donated by some colleague at work (he wasn’t in any big position to be receiving such gifts, but he sometimes received some charity from colleagues who received plenty). Ooooh would we pore over that hamper! I remember each and every time, my mother and I would “attack” it with much ferocity (only after removing the nice plastic wrapper that could be reused, of course), tearing apart the tape that held everything together. Chocolate biscuits! Nuts! Sometimes we’d get something fancy like pate! Oh and once, just once, there was cognac. Just a small bottle, no bigger than my palm (now), Otard no less. We’d keep it in the fridge for special occasions, and even then we’d put a mere couple of drops into a soft drink, and we made that bottle last a couple of years. I haven’t seen a Christmas hamper in more than a decade. But they remind me of good times when things were hard to come by, and pleasures were simple and small, but so wonderful.

I like the food. My aunt used to give us leftovers of turkey – it was the only time we’d get to eat turkey, which is like a luxury food in my family. It was when we might splurge on something like black pepper or honey baked ham, instead of the good ol’ 49-cents-per-1oo-grams picnic ham. It was when we’d get to eat the really “high class” stuff like shortbread. In recent years since we’ve had more money we’ve been able to order those Christmas sets from Giant or NTUC, but we’ve also begun cooking more and more each year. It makes Christmas dinner feel that much homier. I like that a lot. I’m looking forward to my husband’s striploin more than anything else this year.

I like the end-of-the-year mood. This close to the end of the year, it’s a fantastic time to reflect. To think about 2012 with all its highs and lows, and think about what we could have done better, or give ourselves a little pat on the back for things we think we’ve done well in. Sure, there’s a lot more that I can do. I’d like to do a lot more for charity. But I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not selfish to take care of my health first before I can give of myself to others. 2013 is going to be the year I devote my life, my time and my energies to me. And I’m gonna do it all, for me.

Anyway, this Christmas, I’m giving something to myself, and to everyone else, especially my friends. This Christmas, I’m giving you CHANGE. No, not the kind that Adam Levine would be grateful for to finally be able to make that call. Change like the Obama kind. Don’t be afraid of change, to change. I’m talking about change in yourself, to yourself, for yourself. Don’t worry, I’m pretty confident you can’t get any worse, haha. It’s definitely gonna be change for the better.

Let yourself change. Give yourself the permission to allow yourself to change. Stop holding on to the person you are, thinking that you’ll lose your sense of identity once you let go. Your personality won’t change drastically. Your moods and preferences may. Your reactions may. Your fears, your anger, your perceptions may. Let them. If you choose not to change, you’ll never become better than you are, and you’ll never become the better person you could have been had you chosen to accept change.

Close your eyes and envision the person you’d like to be. Then open your eyes and realise this: It’s possible. That isn’t a figment of your imagination. That person is not some fantasy character. That person is you. Soon.

And if you’re happy the way you are right now, then think about the people around you. Could you become someone better for them? I’m sure there will be areas where you’re a little lacking, surely, come on! Otherwise, perhaps a touch of humility might be in order? Haha. Be open to new things, accept new and foreign situations, throw yourself into something different, take up a challenge, explore unfamiliar territory. Try. And never stop trying. Because you know what they say: Those who don’t try, fail 100% of the time.

Life is many beautiful things, but it’s a kaleidoscope lying on its side, until you shake it up a bit, you know, for a change. ;P

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