Finding Christmas joy.

It is a week before Christmas. My house is festooned with fairy lights, pine trees , angels and Ho Ho Ho. Everything good and joyful. 

Except that it’s not!

Well, it is.

But it’s not!

I love Christmas, except I don’t. It over promises and under delivers at a soul level. Which is why the Nativity my mum knitted nearly two decades ago is pulled out every year and placed awkwardly among my other, arguable much nicer Christmas decorations. 

My Mum’s knitted Nativity helps lead me back to my own personal Christmas joy, no matter what else is happening, how bleak I sometimes feel about the seeming emptiness of the Christmas showtime. 

This is how it does;

I take the knitted characters into my lap and I am immediately connected with my gorgeous mother who is no longer with us in body. I am reminded of her deft, slim fingers that each and every millimetre of wool has passed through to the rhythmic clicking of her knitting needles. 

I touch, what she has touched. Each and every knit and purl was at her behest. I am reminded of her very real physical presence in this world. She feels tangible, present again. She is not just a memory. 

It saddens me profoundly as the loss resurges but it comforts me much, much more. She was real, she was here, she is my mum and she loved me. 

I am keenly reminded that happiness and sadness walk hand in hand. If the sadness I feel in this moment is the price of having her in my life, I  pay it willingly a thousand times over. This realisation renders  sadness impotent. My sadness is the flip side to the joy of her having been. Then sadness is compelled to move lower down the ranking order,  and loses power to pull me in totally. Because now it is merely a price, and one I would pay time and again. It doesn’t engulf me. I choose it. 

Then I  consider each and every knitted character and say a silent thank you for something in my life that they remind me of. 

Each year there are differences in what they throw forward for me but this year it has gone something like this:-

the Shepherd

The Shepherd prompts me to think of those who have guided and watched over me to differing degrees. I take the time to quietly appreciate key people who  have helped me keep connected to my herd. I define the herd as any group of people to which I want to be connected. My tribe or tribes, the people with whom I live, work or study. Human’s are social animals but navigating any group and finding our place in it, and then being comfortable within that group can be challenging. I take time to silently thank all those who have helped me with that. 

I also take time to make a promise to self to be an unobtrusive shepherd whenever I see someone who is standing aloft, on the edges of belonging, to help them find their place in the group too.  

Thank you to all of my tribes!

Thank you to key people who guide me. 

the Sheep

I love my four funny, wonky little sheep and they always make me think of the animals in my life. This year it is my small dog that I give thanks to. For her unconditional love and acceptance and I am reminded once more of how valuable the little things are. 

Thank you for animals and unconditional love. 

the three wise men

I always note the three different coloured wools of my three kings. Mum was embracing diversity way back.

This year it was the gifts that that resonated. I always struggle with the commercial aspect of Christmas, I am also totally sucked in every year and spend more than I need and end up panic buying much that will no doubt end in landfill. Then I think of the many who will have little or nothing when me and mine are lucky enough to have so much. Every year I sit with the shame knowing I will likely hurtle down the same path every year. How close am I to tumbling down that slippery slope of unworthiness, shame, self recrimination, and feelings of failure for not being better. Which in turn makes me think of the work of Brené Brown *. So I took the time to listen to one of my favourite YouTube recordings. What joy at reminding myself of her work and that it is enough for me to be doing the best I can, being the best I can, and feeling my vulnerability, even as I write this and put my head above the parapet to scream aloud my unworthiness and hypocrisy. And then say to you, my reader, it’s ok. I am ok. I’m a long mile from perfect and that is fine. So, the kings have led me to ditch my perfectionism – great!

Next year I will do better. Or I won’t.

Thank you for compassion and self-compassion.


My little knitted Joseph has a staff and little knitted lantern. He has a big smile and rosy cheeks. He makes me smile.

This year I contemplated light and dark as he holds a lantern. 

I am reminded that one cannot exist without the other. I am grateful that it is my light that defines and holds my dark rather than the other way around. Well, most of the time. 

Thank you for that inner light. 


Over the years Mary has reminded me of a plethora of female motifs. Mother, virgin, Goddess, femininity, feminism, matriarchy, whore, sister, witch, and friend. 

This year motherhood is at the fore. 

I am grateful for my healthy, beautiful, almost-grown-up children and I forgive myself for mistakes made in parenting along the way and love myself for doing the absolute best I could every step of the way. 

Thank you for my beautiful children and family.

Baby jesus

As I look at the marshmallow-like knitted lumps that form the baby Jesus, I am reminded of newness, of potential and beginnings. 

How thrilling to know I hold the potential to create, and re-create, time and again. 

It is good to be reminded that we all have the potential to breathe life into new ideas, new projects, and ventures.

It is within our ability to nurture a new way of being at any point. 

We just need to choose it. 

Thank you for the never-ending new day and endless new beginnings. 

Little things

This is how this little knitted group helps me grab back Christmas joy when sometimes my light is dimming.

It’s ok to feel bad, sad and down-right gloomy when the bright brilliance of Christmas serves to remind us of the stark divide between what is real and what is not.

Along with the fake snow, the tinsel and the lights there is an underlying knowing that most of it is for show. Most of it is not real, but if we can dig beneath the glass  bead mistletoe and plastic holly and find a true meaning that is relevant to our own deepest self, then Christmas is transformed.

A knitted Nativity works for me. 

I would be interested to hear some of your Christmas moments of reflection.

Merry Christmas, all. 

* Brené Brown is in no way affiliated to Symantha’s Talking Therapy, I am simply a fan.