Constructive Adventing

Image is of a sunset through summer grasses

The Christmas season is almost upon us, and this year I’m going to be doing advent a little differently. I already have a wooden advent calendar with little doors, that I picked up in a car boot sale many years ago. 

Last year I filled it with snowflake window-stickers for the children to make the house more and more wintry as the days passed. I usually go for chocolate treats. There’s something about that build up to the mayhem that is Christmas, that needs some noting. 

But this year, whilst the children can enjoy their treats, we adults are taking a different tone. I’ve often looked wistfully at the gin advent calendars, but then question the wisdom of planning to drink every day of the month. And what if I forget a day? Would I have to double, triple, quadruple up?!

I love Christmas. I love the family rituals that I stick to, I love our patterns. I love spending time with my children and watching the magic through their eyes, but that’s not to say that I don’t find it immensely stressful too. 

I used to get, ‘ill’ every Christmas. I would push myself on through the social events, the parties, the nights out, the family get togethers, and by the time the big day came I would feel awful. My head would pound, my joints would ache, I was exhausted right down to my bones. 

Every year I would be ill, but I wasn’t ill, I was drained. I had over-processed, I had burnt myself out and it would be well into January before I felt like myself again. 

I haven’t been ill at Christmas since I started working with my own internal rhythms. I am careful to plan to rest, to not overdo things, and to stick to my routines whenever I can. 

This year I’m adding a new tonic to the mix. My advent calendar won’t be alcohol, nor sugar, nor treats, I am going to give myself the gift of time. 

Every day, from the first of December, I am taking ten minutes of my time just to be. It’s almost mindfulness, and if mindfulness is what suits you, then go for it, but there are no restrictions and you can work out what works for you. This is my advent calendar for this year, I think it’s going to make a real difference to me:

  1. I’m going to take ten minutes to watch the birds on the bird feeder. 
  2. I’m going to take ten minutes to hold my husband’s hand. 
  3. I’m going to take ten minutes to enjoy a mince pie without a word. 
  4. I’m going to take ten minutes to stand outside in the frost without a coat on. 
  5. I’m going to take ten minutes to walk silently through the woods. 
  6. I’m going to take ten minutes to sit on the floor and think about who I have been this year. 
  7. I’m going to take ten minutes to remember a really good day. 
  8. I’m going to take ten minutes to try and juggle and accept that I can’t. 
  9. I’m going to take ten minutes noticing everything in the room with me. 
  10. I’m going to take ten minutes with my finger on my pulse feeling its strength. 
  11. I’m going to take ten minutes to tense and then relax each area of my body. 
  12. I’m going to take ten minutes with my forehead leaned against my husband’s. 
  13. I’m going to take ten minutes with my eyes closed, really listening to the world. 
  14. I’m going to take ten minutes to think about what I want next year to be. 
  15. I’m going to take ten minutes to jump in puddles – if they’re covered in ice, even better.
  16. I’m going to take ten minutes to light a candle and think about the flame.
  17. I’m going to take ten minutes to think about how I am seen by those who love me the most.
  18. I’m going to take ten minutes to draw a picture, with no skill or beauty, just for the action of drawing.
  19. I’m going to take ten minutes to think about all the seeds and bulbs beneath the earth, waiting for Spring, and imagine them erupting.
  20. I’m going to take ten minutes to sit with myself, with my phone off and nothing to entertain me.
  21. I’m going to take ten minutes not to think about everything that I haven’t done yet, but to focus on all the things that I have done.
  22. I’m going to take ten minutes to focus on my breathing, I’m going to breathe in for five, pause, breathe out for five, pause and so on.
  23. I’m going to take ten minutes to remember the best thing I have ever eaten and think about where it was, who was there, and try to recall every detail of it.
  24. I’m going to take ten minutes to try to feel that childish excitement of Christmas Eve, I’m going to think about what it felt like when I was young.
  25. I’m going to take ten minutes to think about the things in this world that make me happy. I’m going to forget about what needs doing and just breathe into the day.

Along with Flo, Rhi Lloyd-Williams is a co-founder of Autism HWB. She is also a writer, poet, parent, playwright, blogger and all round good egg. She writes about autism on her website AutistRhi.com and you can find out more about her play, The Duck, at Autact.co.uk

Follow Rhi on Twitter: @outfoxgloved, Facebook: @AutistRhi & Instagram: @rhi_lw

Published by Rhi

Writer, poet, playwright and blogger, and as of a few years ago, diagnosed as autistic too. Just one more label to add to the multitude.

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