Christmas – a wonderful time of gifts galore. All the things we’ve secretly always wanted, all there ready for us. Sometimes even things we didn’t even realise we wanted – but there they are, delivered in the perfect package to us personally.
The thing is these gifts aren’t the usual sort of gifts. We’re not talking designer goods and spa days. We’re not even talking socks and a bottle of wine. We’re not even talking a pack of car cleaning wipes and a bottle of screen wash from the garage down the road which was the only place open on Christmas morning.
No we’ve got a whole other category of gifts in mind. The gifts that led the wonderful Nicola Bird to protest, in the way that only she can, ‘Enough with the effing gifts.’
These are the gifts that don’t look like gifts in any way. In fact they look like the absolute opposite. The things we wouldn’t ever want. They are things that are bad enough at any time but then the Christmas intensifier comes along and ramps up the torture with every beaming faced ad or Mariah Carey melisma.
These are the gifts that trigger every vulnerability we have, every fear, every shame. Here are some examples. There are many more…
The gift of being lonely and alone.
The gift of an ex loved up with spouse number two.
The gift of no money to buy presents.
The gift of in-laws that don’t like us.
The gift of a job we hate.
The gift of a job we hate that is making us work Christmas Day.
The gift of a job loss.
The gift of a first Christmas after the death of a loved one.
The gift of a diagnosis.
The gift of holidays ruined.
The gift of being told to be vaccinated against our will.
The gift of desperately wanting people to be vaccinated.
The gift of isolation and plans cancelled.
The gift of a bad relationship.
The gift of domestic abuse.
The gift of illness and pain.
The gift of exhaustion and overwhelm, doing it all, while everyone else watches tv.
And on and on. No end to the gifts available.
Why on earth are these gifts we might ask and why did I say we ‘secretly want them’?
They are gifts and they are secretly wanted because they bring what the mind is unknowingly craving: the end of its search.
These gifts can of course keep the mind in its search. They’ve been doing that our whole lives. They trap us in circumstances we don’t want to be in. They send us crazy with frustration and suffering. They hold us as a victim in a world of separation. I would be happy, peaceful, free if only… I had money / friends / my spouse back / good health / my children here / more help / a different life / the world how I want it to be…
Or… or… they mark the end of the search. And this is why the Christmas multiplier of suffering works in our favour. It makes it in-our-faces un-ignorable. And this is why they are gifts. They are showing us what needs to be seen. Holding our head still to finally, perhaps for the first time see what is actually true. See what we really are.
Although the wrapping of the gift takes infinite forms, in reality there are just three.
The first gift is the shift from the mind’s creations of past and future, other people’s lives, comparisons, projections, concepts of how things should or shouldn’t be into just what is happening right now. Story to presence. Battling imaginary dragons to responding to the immediate. Concepts and projections to reality. The suffering is saying ‘the mind is creating. Come back home.’ This is sanity.
The second gift is the gift of accountability. It is the genuine acknowledgement of the role of our behaviour in maintaining everything that we resent. It is the owning of the original choice. The choice that led to this situation right now. This is not easy. It is incredibly confronting. Even reading this might make us angry. But the moment there is accountability: freedom.
The final gift lasts a lifetime. It is the realisation that every experience is a creation of what has been learned through our lives. Reality is the manifestation of our beliefs and conditioning. Reality therefore appears in this way to allow all the learned ideas of what we are and what other people are to be seen and understood. Every interaction with the world dissolves the veils obscuring the truth of what we are. This is love. The world is love. We are love. And everything is returning us to that truth.
There are three gifts at Christmas.
These are the only three gifts we will ever need (although socks, of course, are always useful).
Every situation, every thought, every moment of resistance is offering these three gifts to us.
The question is: will we accept them?