Christmas – what does it mean to you? For many it’s like rediscovering a greatest hits album – and replaying all our favourite tracks. In NLP we talk about how some words are ‘semantically packed’ -literally filled with layers of meaning, that meaning comes from experience filtered and stored and replayed over many times. Christmas is one of those words and can in itself trigger happiness, excitement, anticipation, longing, sadness…Like the Greatest hits that tumble from the radio and wrap themselves around us in every store, Christmas takes hold of each of us in our own personal way.
But if ‘all meaning is context dependent’ what does Christmas mean if you are a serving soldier at Camp Bastion in Helmand? If you move house, or you’re staying with Auntie Marge (with the moustache) What does it mean for your family that can’t have you with them? Many will say the greatest gift is having those you choose all around you their presence may at times be a challenge as you ride the traditions of times gone by; the way to wrap the presents, are you doing a turkey this year, oh I wouldn’t do it like that… yet gifts are abundant if you have eyes for them.
So what of ‘different maps of the world’? Well no two christmases are packed with the same meaning, just this week one of LBC said “that’s Christmas for me” upon hearing the sound of the Salvation Army brass band in St Pancras, I know someone for whom charity is the outcome upon hearing ‘do they know it’s Christmas’.
I share a ritual, from long ago in my childhood, with a new good friend – we buy the bestest crispest most perfect copy of the ‘Radio Times’ (nothing else will feel the same) and turning page by page we ring each programme we plan to watch over the festive period – most likely in pyjama’s and even more likely with a drink. It makes me so happy and content to do this.
So what if you had the choice to be happy, and could make the perfect day (you can you know) what would be in that day, the feel of your dressing gown, the first smells of cooking, the sound of tearing paper? Take a moment to enjoy your best bits, put them somewhere safe inside then snap! the lid closed to keep them safe. Now they are there for whenever you want them, those memories.
Take comfort in whatever you perceive your Christmas to be, invent your own traditions, reframe your experience by turning what was a chore into a new ritual that can be learned by heart – and best of all shared with a loved one. And if you meant to say last year “all I want for Christmas is you”, then your next best opportunity is perfectly present.

Want to join the conversation?
Tell us what Christmas means to you, and what your new Christmas ritual might be.