That sounds very new age and self-centred. It’s not meant to, and it was hard for me to come up with a title that made sense so I went with it. But it is ok to make Christmas about you and not everyone else.
When I say that I don’t mean it’s just about the gifts you want and the food you want to eat, or where you want to be. Those subjects in themselves are a whole other blog post.
But for me, the stress of Christmas and pleasing everyone else, takes a lot of the joy out of it. Whatever your beliefs around Christmas faith wise, I believe it should be a happy, peaceful and nice time, and if you aren’t enjoying the festive season, then you need to think about why.
A few years ago, we decided as a family that we wanted to take a lot of the sting out of Christmas and the pressure, hype and expectation. We both work hard in fairly demanding jobs, so having Christmas demands on us too, makes it seem like just another stressful time.
My anxiety peaks in the winter, and around this time of year it can be harder for me to not do “all the things” and try to please everyone whilst making myself into a very anxious, tired mess.
So, we live by our own rules. We do Christmas in a way that works for us. Some years that has meant going away, as a family. We have done Christmas in Bangkok with my Dad who lives there, and Christmas in the South of France, house-sitting for friends. As we have got older, our feelings around the excess of Christmas, from the amount of money spent to the amount of food consumed, to the amount of time given to running around spending time with others have changed.
We don’t spend a lot of money. We don’t go mad and buy so much food that takes days to be eaten or thrown away, and we make the days around Christmas about what we (our family of four) want to do. We want it to be calm, and also happy.
For us that means not cramming many visits to relatives into a small period of time, eating as many Christmas meals as we can. It also means no gifts for adults in our lives and unless family has come from abroad for Christmas it won’t be a big event in our house, and we eat what we want and like, rather than what other people think we should be eating or liking.
It takes people time to understand, that we want Christmas our way. It doesn’t always go down well. But the emotion and expectation around this time of year for us works better if diluted and served as we like it and not ordered via someone else’s menu.
So this year, we are mixing it up again. Not going away but doing something a bit different that will also be good for our kids.
We are helping to cook Christmas dinner for 50 people (including ourselves) and there will be people we don’t know, people who may not have anywhere else to be on Christmas Day, and people who may find Christmas hard and need to be somewhere different. The kids are excited, and despite the fact that I am cooking Brussel sprouts for 50 people, a whole host of vegan and allergy friendly foods, and will probably be made to join in playing games (not my favorite thing) I feel calm and happy about it.
As human beings, we inherently want to please people and comply with what society says we should be doing, and Christmas is a time when the pressure piles on to make everyone happy. But if how you do Christmas isn’t working for you, it’s ok to make a change and make it feel more about how you like it. There are 364 other days in the year to think about everyone else, making one day of the year work for you and yours is not the end of the world, the world will cope, I promise…
How do you manage Christmas? Are you making any changes this year to make things different?