For always and ever, at this time of the year I struggle the most. It is smack in the middle of winter for us here in Ireland (now I don’t really mind that bit, apart from the lack of light), but it is also smack in the middle of peak commercialism and everything it entails. For the past ten-years or so I have consciously opted out off peak commercialism, I started by not putting up Christmas decorations and sending cards to gradually deciding not to buy Christmas presents.

I know! I have been labelled extremely bah humbug; I have even been called Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s long lost business partner, whilst my hubby has been called Scrooge himself. But, I can’t help thinking how buying for the sake of buying without any thought as to the person I am buying for and what they really need makes me a bad scrooge like person?

Adding another plastic boxed plastic toy, or over boxed toiletry set, to a mountain of stuff hardly seems like the optimal way to show I care.

I do buy presents, just not at Christmas, and I do my best to put thought into the present and the person I am buying for. Sometimes that might be buying a hot cup of coffee or a winter jacket for a friend, when they don’t have one, taking time to talk to people and smiling.

First hike of the New Year – Burren National Park

Sometimes that may mean making a long drive to visit family and friends and sitting down with them just to see how they are.

Time is one of our most precious gifts and in the past I was all too ready to abandon it for the gift boxed plastic sets of caring.


In Late November, through December Alan and myself watched time slowly slipping away as a friend of ours was destined not not see another Christmas.

In the last few weeks of his life he gave away all of the stuff he had and didn’t need. And then with generosity and kindness of spirit he made his final journey with people, nurses, doctors and friends. At the end he had just the clothes he wore, slippers, his phone and music, but much more he had, a warm bed, in a warm building, food when he needed it, medication to help with the pain of his transition and people who cared he went there with dignity.

Fundamentally it all comes down to a roof over our head, food to eat and our health. If there really was a Santa spirit that existed deep down in all of us, then why profit from the necessary? Profit from everything else.

Connemara as seen from Oughterard / Roscahill Wood / Galway Wind Park Oughterard

Recently a lady walked up to me in town and asked me what makes me happy, caught on the spot, obviously her intention, I replied to smile.

Earlier that exact morning, I wasn’t feeling great, a bit sad and a little overwhelmed and I thought I’d smile at myself, because that is what I would do if I saw someone sad. Smiling had indeed lightened my head and the random lady drew my attention to it.

So as one set of 365 days end and another set begins, the lessons I am taking forward and integrating into my life are:

  • To smile a heck of a lot more
  • To not buy any clothes for the full year (and as little as possible of anything else unnecessary, after all I don’t really need them)
  • Pay attention to time, to all of its gifts and be generous with them
  • To be outside and moving
  • To watch more sunrises and sunsets, consciously aware I fundamentally have a finite amount of them

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