While I totally get that Christmas and the holiday season are meant to be a happy, healthy, heart-felt time, it’s important to note that it’s not like that for many people (as I am sure you know!)
Some people are underfunded, under-resourced, under-energised or under-loved. Maybe all of those things. Erk.
There’s often a pretty big divide between what we’re ‘sold’ – visions of sugar plums and loaded trees and smiling people in funny sweaters – and the reality – carefully balanced budgets, lots of beavering away, family tensions, etc etc.
Most years Christmas for us is lovely but a bit of a juggle. This year is much the same – except since we’ve moved out of the building in Brunswick Street, our overheads are a bit more manageable. Phew. We SORT-OF manage this busy and expensive time, balancing things on a knife-edge – and then sighing with relief when it all (somehow) works out.
I thought it would be good to talk about some ways to make things a bit nicer at this meant-to-be-ace-but-often-stressful time of the year. So let’s do that. (And if you are having a tough time I hope you can dip deep into your juju reservoirs and find a way to look after yourself – even if it’s just in little ways.) I hope these ideas are helpful.
1. Put process before perfection
Don’t worry about what you see on the internet – the perfect bits and bobs you find on blogs, Pinterest, Instagram or the like. Take things UP a notch and approach your wrapping or cooking or Christmas day outfit or gift-buying with some loose, larking-about, creative flair. YES, results matter – but I think that if you relax a bit and avoid precision, if you loosen up and let things get a bit loopier and free-er, the results are often MUCH better than taking an uptight, perfect approach. Not only that, you’ll be looser and more creative and more likely to lark about too. Nothing better than setting a loopy, fun tone for Christmas. So loosen up. If you can. I know it’s hard for some. Set a non-perfect tone and let everyone off the hook a bit.
2. Keep things personal and real
Most of us are just seeking connection and meaning in this life. Don’t you think? Slow down the running-around-like-chook-with-head-chopped-off-or-perhaps-even-lurching-about-like-a-screaming-goat. Start talking to people about the real stuff – how you are really feeling, what you are liking, what you are messing up and find out what’s going on with them. Having nice, human, sincere exchanges is a the sort of gift we should all have on our Christmas lists – and this kind of chatter/kindness gives everyone more energy and strength to face what might be busy or overwhelming days. Because we are all a bit of a bunch of coconuts and there’s something nice about being in this thing together. Talk about the real stuff (in a positive way, if you can!) Let the feels run free.
3. Listen to this song
It’s not Christmassy, but it’s bloody gorgeous. Also. FRIENDS. Sigh. *beam*
4. Watch this movie
It has Dolly Parton, Henry Winkler AND Lee Majors in it. And it’s totally Christmassy, y’all. Make some popcorn and cheese on crackers and a JUG of fancy drink. Do it. It’s a great idea, I promise. Here is what it’s about:
“A musical fairy tale about a country singer whose quiet Christmas holiday in her beloved home in the Smoky Mountains turns into an adventure when she becomes involved with seven orphans, a mysterious mountain man, and an evil witch.”
5. Make (cheap but nice) things
Stay up late and make cute things for the people you love. Maybe it’s homemade spicy tomato sauce? Maybe it’s a bunch of extra delicious biscuits? Perhaps you want to make some necklaces out of FIMO? These are all things ANYONE can do and if you’re pushed for funds you can make a bunch of things for not very much outlay. PLUS you can drink wine while you do it. PLUS you can put on Christmas music. PLUS you can invite a friend over to help and make it a making party instead of a chore.
6. Don’t be too well-behaved
There’s a lot of denial and guilt and limitations placed around all kinds of behaviours a lot of the time. I’m not sure who we can blame for this. It’s sort of like a giant wave of ‘STOP DOING THAT’ sweeps across the globe and before we know it, we’re all being careful not to do a variety of things for a variety of reasons.
I think it’s a great idea to let yourself have an ace time a lot of the time – and especially during the holiday season – the traditional time to let yo hair down (peeps). You rarely get medals for the things you DON’T do. So do the things you want and be kind to those around you. Maybe even encourage them to do the things THEY want to do. Start a ‘LET’S DO IT’ movement instead.
7. Watch this video
8. Get some sleep (and hugs)
Really. Do it. Try to get some extra zeds in the sleep bank. You will feel so much better for it. If you have kids that buzz about and prevent you from sleeping, try for cat naps with them in front of an ace movie. Grab some rest and hugs where you can. Hugs and rest are pretty much the secret to a non-overwhelmed life – even in SMALL doses they’ll do some magic. If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife you can obviously loop them into this huggy thing too. Or your cat. Or whoever you fancy, really, as long as they fancy a hug too.
9. Plan some non-usual things
I know the comfort of a nice routine. I don’t mind a bit myself. That said, little diversions and treats can make a big difference and make you feel a lot more loved/happy/comforted at this time of year. Look for small ways to mix things up, give yourself a little gear change and create opportunities to discover new things or new ideas or new little happinesses. Maybe it’s buying some special tea, shaking up a new cocktail, making a really nice ice-cream sundae, going on a creative or fun outing to a gallery or silly movie. Mark the end of the year by doing some things you don’t normally do.
Let us know if you have any ideas to add to this list. Just pop them in the comments. You might save someone from strangling a lecherous uncle or having buying way too many gifts for people they don’t like or getting a headache from being too perfect.