Don’t you just love going on your summer hols? Time to take things down a notch, visit a lovely place, have some yummy food, do some napping (less of that if you have kids, I know), read a book, get some sunshine and just have a break away from your normal life. After you’ve been away, people normally ask: “How was it?” And you say: “lovely”, “amazing” or “not long enough”. After a week or two’s break you return to work/life feeling more refreshed, relaxed and little more upbeat.
Now, in comparison, when you ask people how their Christmas hols were, you often hear: “exhausting”, “stressful” or “I need a holiday to get over it!” Now, let’s think about this for a second, if every year for your summer holiday you did the same thing, with the same people and came back stressed, tired and feeling a bit crappy about yourself – don’t you think you’d change your summer tradition? So why don’t we don’t we change how we do Christmas? (NB If your Christmas time is a heaven-like holiday that bounces you into a New Year full of positivity and ‘joie de vivre’ – then good on you – read no further!)
So, this year I’m going to give you an early gift and get you to consider having not just a summer holiday but a Christmas one too!!! Your time-off in December will already be on your calendar, so now all we need to do is change the end of the year from a time of stress (where you often get tired, ill and feel crappy afterwards), into a fun, happy, revitalising and super sparkly time. “Impossible! I always have so much to do at Christmas!” you say. Well, it’s totally possible, but you have to decide NOW in your summer break that you want a Christmas break, otherwise, like monsoon season in other countries, it will creep up on you and sweep you away before you know it. So, if you’re up for having a holiday (this includes naps, books and all the other good stuff!) then here are my top tips for getting you there….
Close your eyes and think of your perfect Christmas. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? Ok, if it was a luxury chalet with full staff you may not be able to afford that BUT what can you do this year to create the feeling of your dream Christmas? What people would make your Christmas holidays really wonderful and fun-filled? Where would you love to be? Do you want to stay put and watch films with a glass of wine, or do you feel better buzzing about seeing your besties? Do you want to be with your close family? Friends instead of family? If your current Christmas crew works for you then fab, keep going with them, but, if year after year Christmas is more a hell-i-day than holiday then it’s time to think a little differently (and maybe even start saving for that chalet!).
Don’t spend your Christmas with people out of guilt or obligation – especially if you always end up hurt, stressed or in arguments. Yes, in a perfect world everyone’s family and friends would be like the Waltons, but, if the people you usually spend Christmas with continually cause you upset, then it’s time to take yourself out of harms way. Also, there’s no need to spend your holidays driving around the country, pleasing everyone but wearing yourself out. Tell people (in advance so you don’t spring it on them) – that this Christmas you’re not doing your usual trips as you’re having a rest. Be kind and if you know that you choosing to spend Christmas elsewhere would leave someone upset or alone, then help them think of/invite/choose other people to spend Christmas with now (this gives people time to get used to the idea as well).
If you decide that you couldn’t possibly have Christmas away from certain people (some of whom usually upset/stress you out) then here’s what you do – you limit your time with them! Who said that Christmas had to be from Christmas Eve till Boxing Day? Why not choose to spend just one day with people you feel obligated to and then take the rest of the time as your holiday. Plan the days that you’re not going to have visitors or do any entertaining and this is your time to unwind, read, nap – do what you’d do on your summer hols but perhaps with a mulled wine instead of Mojito.
Also limit the food craziness. No I’m not going to tell you to go without a Christmas dinner or tin of Quality Street BUT so many people start gorging themselves at the start of December and finish in January, making them feel quite depressed for the new year. This is because the food you eat directly affects how you feel mentally, so whilst a day or two of indulging is not going to do damage – a whole month of binging and boozing really is too much for your mind and body to cope with.
So the present thing drives me a bit crazy. Especially when many people are financially struggling and Christmas tips them over the edge. A few years back I emailed most of my friends to say that I just couldn’t afford to buy presents that year and asked them to not buy any for me. Not one responded with: “you horrible, stingy, scrooge, I thought you were a friend!!!” Most said: “thank goodness, we’re really tight on money too”! So, think if there any friends who it would be a relief to send an email to saying: “shall we not bother with pressies this year or just get something in the January sales instead?”
My family does a Secret Santa for the adults as we realised that pressie buying had got out of hand and we were all spending money to buy presents that weren’t really wanted. So now, instead of buying for all the adults on Christmas day, we all write a list of 5 things we want, have a limit of £30, pick a person’s name (we use drawnames.com) and choose something off of their list to buy. This has simplified present buying/giving sooo much. It means we all get something we want, only spend £30 and everyone gets a nice pressie (with time, money and stress being saved!)
Obviously the pressies are the most exciting part for kiddos and I don’t think that should be done away with BUT again, why not take a look now and see if it can be scaled down in some way so that there are not unwanted presents and overwhelm. I heard of one mum that could no longer keep up with the expense of Christmas toys and demands from her kids, so she now gets them to choose 4 things from her/Santa:
1) something they want
2) something they need
3) something to wear
4) something to read
So her kids still get the joy and fun of picking stuff (especially the something they want gift!!) but she no longer gets into a spiral of overspending and them having endless presents that they don’t appreciate.
Look, whether you acknowledge it or not, Christmas is celebrating baby Jesus’ birthday. If every year people celebrated your birthday by getting stressed, into debt, buying ridiculous amounts of stuff, trying to please everyone, eating and drinking so much they felt horrible and unhappy – wouldn’t you be a bit miffed about that? Well, if you wouldn’t celebrate your birthday like that, then let’s give Jesus a break too! Whatever we do in our lives let’s not do it because it’s something we’ve always done. Every year let’s look to make ourselves and lives better – more fun, honest, uplifting and wonderful. This year give yourself the gift of a Christmas holiday and watch how you and your new year will be so much better and sparkly for it!