Merry Christmas – Let’s Choose to Make it Lovely

Gahhhhh – Christmas Eve.  So much to do, presents to wrap, people to see, meals to prepare – it’s just a huge stress, right?

Well, yes, yes, it is. I’ve lost count of the Facebook posts, WhatsApp chats, emails and calls from friends and family losing their minds with the strain of trying to make this the perfect Christmas.

And I get that, I do.  If I didn’t I wouldn’t have started Christmas shopping back in September.  I wouldn’t spend the equivalent of a third world country’s debt on food (for four people) and I wouldn’t be frantically checking lists to make sure that this year I don’t miss out an important gift and must steal one of my childrens to fix my mistake (sorry, yes, that was dreadful).

We all want the perfect Christmas, don’t we? But what is that – well, for me, it’s one that makes everyone happy.  Where we eat well, watch rubbish and feel together.

But the thing is – that isn’t what we’re creating when we’re frantic over table plans, his or her parents and matching up the kid’s gifts.  When no matter how much we try to relax we know the January bills are going to be utterly crippling and the anxiety will start in the next few days about how to pay them.

When we buy into that, we buy into the advertising myth.

The one that says everyone needs the ‘perfect’ gift (bollocks – kids change their mind so fast, believe me, you can’t win, and any family member or partner who isn’t grateful for your efforts should probably be at someone else’s table next year).

The myth that says the food needs to be amazing (seriously – we’re British, slightly dry turkey and sprouts IS Christmas because by that point we’re usually too hammered to notice).

We all want the perfect Christmas, don’t we? But what is that – well, for me, it’s one that makes everyone happy.  Where we eat well, watch rubbish and feel together.

The myth that says that your home must look amazing.  Also, nonsense – Marks and Spencer’s created the ‘lifestyle Christmas’ concept back in the mid-90s.   Ask a homeless person what the perfect Christmas home looks like and let it go.

And finally, the biggie.  The myth that says you must make everyone happy and meet everyone’s needs.  That myth isn’t just rubbish, it’s the single biggest way to completely lose sight of what Christmas is about. Christmas is about being.  It’s about settling, and being safe and warm and light.  It’s not hysteria, it’s Hygge.  It’s blankets and crap board games and a row with your sister about that time you were twelve and stole her new knickers because you liked them more than the Garfield ones you got.

It’s most of all about gratitude. I’m not trying to be boringly worthy when I say that.  I’m deadly serious.

I was sitting on the sofa unable to move earlier thanks to a frozen back with the right hump and a serious case of the self-pities.I turned to the window and saw my neighbour’s house over the road – covered in lovely lights, and prettiness. Honestly, you’d think it was the happiest, most festive place in the world.  It’s not though.

My lovely, kind, sweet neighbour lost his wife in the summer to cancer and his dad just last week. I know without any doubt he’d give anything for a row with his wife about whose parents to visit this year.  That option is gone. But he’s carried on – put the lights up, made time for all the neighbourhood kids and made plans to see family.

His attitude is that if he can’t have what he wants, he must simply make the very best of what he has.  After all, it’s very easy for us to lose even that. Humbled isn’t the word for how I feel about that.

In a year that saw Trump, Grenfell, The London bombings, Westminster, Manchester, the Syrian conflict and so many truly awful disasters, I can’t help but think it’s time to agree with him.

It’s sobering to realise that at any moment in time our Christmas stress can be over for far worse reasons than a supermarket running out of Prosecco.   Do I want to use other people’s suffering as a panacea to stress? Absolutely not – but do I think those of us in the position to do so need to think of their struggles, put our own in perspective and do more for the people we DON’T know next year?

Absolutely.

I’m the first to say 2017 has been a crap year, full of sadness and pain and anger.  But the end of it doesn’t have to be.  So, let go of what’s driving you mad, embrace what you love and step into 2018 glad that no matter what, we’re still here, we’re celebrating Christmas and we’re so very privileged to do so.

Enjoy your Christmas everyone!

 

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