What does Christman mean to you? – Part 1

by michelle anne richardson

This year for Christmas, I decided to do something special on the blog – my idea was to do an advent calendar that would be free, and which would mean something. A collaborative initiative allowed me to gather 24 women (in fact more) to answer these 2 questions:

  1. What does Christmas mean to you and your family?
  2. What is your one learning from this year that you would like to share with the community…something which would inspire/motivate women/people in general?

After I posted my idea on WRS, I was amazed. Cuz, what followed was nothing short of a Christmas miracle, my inbox was flooded with responses and each story was more endearing than the last one.

This series will have 4 parts to it – where women from different parts of Switzerland will talk about their traditions and learnings. Keep an eye out on my IG – some of these stories will also be featured on my gram.

Pragati Siddhanti, Basel

As an Indian expat in Switzerland, Christmas didn’t mean much to me when I was growing up – it wasn’t a “Hindu holiday”, we were always more into Diwali and Holi. As consumerism associated with the holiday hit our nation – every child fell in love with the idea. North pole, fat guy with a white beard, cakes, cookies and a fancy tree – what’s not to love! I loved it, I was the one who started the tradition of the tree at our house and I still do it. My daughter loves the holiday and we always go a little crazy with the gifts and the décor! My husband pretends to remain neutral, although he secretly is quite “merry” during this time of the year 😉

Christmas for me is a feeling, a warm fuzzy cozy feeling. A time to cuddle up as a family in front of the fireplace and watch Christmas movies. (Television has clearly ruined me 😉 ) We usually stay home, slow down, eat a lot, travel and meet friends during the holiday season. I take a lot of pictures and I also send out season’s greetings. This is always an emotional time for me – I reflect on the year gone by and usually jot down my health goals while drinking hot chocolate. (Irony is my second name)

This year has been phenomenal for me; I don’t think I’ve had a year that was this fulfilling in a long time. If I could give back one learning or a lesson from my book this year it would be “bringing people together”. When people come together, the ordinary changes to extra-ordinary. Get together, reach out and never underestimate the power of “collaboration”.

Denise Nickerson, Geneva

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Christmas is a time for us to feel the stillness that comes in dark nights, snowfall, birds seeking warmth. It is a time to reflect, to sing, to live simplicity when there might be consumerism or chaos all around. We snuggle. We light candles. We take walks. We go to services where we can sing together. We contemplate miracles. Light in the darkness, hope in a world that needs it, giving and receiving, the power of love. We close an old year and get ready to welcome a new one. We make time for gratitude.

This year I learned that in order to build big dreams, you must let go of perfectionism. Getting it right can hold you back from doing significant good in the world. Getting it right is not about doing things in a perfect way, or about perfecting every detail. Getting it right is being open, working towards something worthy and good, making progress, learning along the way, connecting with others, and serving something larger than yourself. Getting it right looks like getting it wrong sometimes and feels scary and risky. Getting it right is about working through a state of compassion with yourself and others. Getting it right is about serving love.

Denise Nickerson is an Author, Educational Consultant, Guidance Counselor, Coach, and Super-Connector. Read more.

Laura Cotton, Founex (Vaud)

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Christmas was always about being together as a family until the father of my children left. A new perspective came to life: making the Holiday Season special for what it is, and not focusing on what it was. I always invite a “Christmas-less” friend at the table to share that good feeling. Nothing is worse than being alone for Christmas, I’ve been there, and I know it is horrible. Opening the door to your home and heart creates togetherness for me now.

Little things make big differences, so trust your gut and go with it – you will proud of what you did, each day.  

To find out what Laura does, click here.

Fungai, Zurich

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For us, Christmas is always a time to reflect and be thankful for everything that we received through the year. We know what it means to have absolutely nothing, so we treasure each other very much because we are all we had when there was nothing else.

More than any other year (all thanks to my coach Wies Bratby ), I learned that my future is really in my hands. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that opportunities will only come when people give them to you. “No-one cares about your future, and your career as much as you do so go ahead and put all the effort into creating opportunities for yourself be it through networking or by putting yourself out there.”

Get to know Fungai.

Ellie Gooding, Zurich (11 years old)

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At Christmas, I like to sit by the Christmas tree or next to the fire and read. Christmas to me is about being cozy and having your family and lots of books around to read.

As the Book Fairy of Switzerland, part of the worldwide book sharing project “The Book Fairies”, I have had an amazing year. I am 11 but my love for reading and the book fairies have seen me, meeting authors, attending book launches, having a private tour of NordSüd and Bergli Books, working at Orell Füssli for the day, reviewing books for Usborne and writing my own book that comes out next year! (Georgie Moves to Switzerland.)

I would say you can achieve a lot of things in a year. Your hobbies can take you on an adventure. Finding the things that you love and sharing your passions can open lots of doors for you. You don’t have to be plain, or black and white, color yourself in with the things you love.

You can follow Ellie on her Instagram account.

(I wish I could give Ellie a warm hug)

Marjolijn Stefanoni, Würenlos (AG), Switzerland

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Christmas is a time for me and my family to be together and relax. We play games, go for walks and of course, we eat. Often, we spend it in a small vacation apartment in the mountains. It is a time for love and bonding and since the apartment is small, it makes the setting warm and intimate.

This year I learned that I don’t have to score 100% at exams. When I was younger, I always put pressure on myself and wanted to get a perfect score. This year I had the exams for my “Canine Bowen Technique Practitioner ” certification and I felt the same familiar pressure to just know EVERYTHING! But after a while, I realized that I knew what I did even if it wasn’t everything. This realization gave me instant relief and I passed the exam – the score wasn’t so important but the realization that I didn’t need to be perfect made me feel really good.

Find out more about what Marjolijn does.

Antoinette Vermilye, Crans Pres Celigny

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For me it is a time of slowing down not speeding up – we love to gather and reflect on our journeys and what we have achieved and learned. It also means remembering sufferings and working towards making the world a better place.

I have learned that our actions are interconnected and our collective power is massive. We now need to urgently come together to save our planet which is in dire trouble. It is important to remember the impact of buying that one plastic bottle, traveling by airplane, what we eat and what we wear.

Read more about her foundation and the work she is doing around marine protection.

What are some of your family traditions around Christmas? Is there something you learned this year which you would like to share with the world? I would love to hear all about it in my comments section.

It’s Christmas time, let’s spread some cheer and lift each other up!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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5 thoughts on “What does Christman mean to you? – Part 1

  1. What a wonderful Idea! This time of year can be so challenging and sometimes it is hard to get into the spirit of things. Warm loving stories like these are a beautiful way to encourage others <3
    Christmas for our family is about family, coming together all in one place to love, support, and make memories. Sit by the fire and listen to holiday tunes, watch a Christmas film while eating popcorn and drinking hot cocoa, see the lights at the Zoo, bake, visit a tree farm to cut down our own tree, decorate, etc. This year was hard, and we have had a lot of difficult transition, but we have some amazing supportive family who have really supported us and continue to help us through it. We are truly blessed <3

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