Crystal celebrates 12 days of Yule
Crystal knelt before the large cedar chest at the foot of her bed.  In the center of the chest was a large ceramic bowl, one she had made many years ago.  The bowl was filled with small packages, each one wrapped neatly in festive paper and tied with pretty ribbons.


To the left of the bowl was a large tree-shaped candle that gave off the rich scent of pine.  On the right of the bowl was a small golden sun shaped incense holder and a small box holding cones of incense, her own holiday blend of frankincense and myrrh.


Crystal lit the candle, and used it's flame to light a cone of incense, setting it on the sun holder.  She then closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting the scents surround her and releasing all the tension of the day.


She loved the holidays, but they were definitely full of bustle and chaos.  The shop was always busy, with people coming in and searching for just the right gift.  She loved helping others find special things for the people in their lives, and she had done her own share of shopping.  


But she also knew that it was easy to become overwhelmed, to let the small stresses and worries build up until they felt never-ending.  So she had begun a personal practice, of taking time every day for twelve days, starting at Yule and lasting right up until the New year, to pause and send a little love right back at herself.


She thought of it as her twelve days of Yule, but it was really twelve days of self-care.  Throughout the months previously, as she was getting ready for the holidays, helping others find the right presents, and picking out gifts for other people, she kept her out out for small gifts for herself.


Crystal knew lots of people who made beautiful things, many of whom worked extra hard around the holidays, and she loved picking things from different people as gifts for herself.  It made her appreciate each gift even more, knowing it had been made by someone she knew.


There were twelve packages in her bowl, and each night she would pick one at random and open it.  She knew what was in them all, but it was still fun to see which one she got each night.  


She treated herself to a wide selection of gifts, from luxurious chocolates to relaxing bath salts.  This year, she had found a pretty pair of earrings and a stunning hand-bound journal, as well as a new blend of tea she was excited to try.  


Crystal looked forward to this time, and she gave herself permission to fully experience this time to herself.  Whatever was in the gift she opened each night, she enjoyed to it's fullest, whether that meant drawing a bath and relaxing in the tub or savoring a sweet treat.  


She found herself already smiling, as she reached for the bowl, her eyes still closed.  Her hand felt around in the bowl, until she found just the right gift, and closed around it.  She pulled the small package out of the bowl, excited to see what was inside.


***

I had this idea, of Crystal celebrating privately with a twist on the twelve days of Christmas, and I wanted to write it up as a little story, and an example of a way to gift ourselves with a little self-love in the holiday season.

I know it tends to be a little crazy around this time of year, and there is always so much to do, and so much stress floating about.  But it is SO worth it to find ways to honor our self-care, to take time to refresh ourselves, so that we can not only enjoy the holidays, but also give our best selves to our friends, our family and those we spend time with.


You don't have to do something big, it can be tiny acts of kindness, just little things that make you smile.  You might take time every night to read a little in your favorite book, or watch a show you enjoy.  You could treat yourself to your favorite candy or snack (and really enjoy it...guilt-free!)  You might buy yourself little gifts as well (and how fun would it be to do this earlier in the year, so you might be surprised by what is inside!)


I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and finds ways to pamper themselves!

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