Has anyone else noticed it? That unique feeling of overwhelm that arrives as the calender signals the beginning of December. Let me be clear. I love Christmas. Always have. Giving gifts and spending time with family is wonderful. There is nothing better than the smell of a real tree and how pretty and captivating it all is. And how I adore that first time I see the coca cola truck advert. It really does transport me momentarily to my childhood.
However increasingly, I struggle to find time for writing cards, buying presents and ‘that sneaky little elf’ that has successfully infiltrated the festive season for almost an entire month. Then there’s Christmas Eve boxes, Christmas jumper day at school and matching pyjamas. Prioritising these things while also managing everything else in life is no small task. I admit, I have done them all before and will do some of them again. But I do think that these additions to christmas sometimes put an unnecessary pressure on us for everything to be magical and perfect. Is it just me who feels its all becoming a bit stage-managed? Traditions are of course important. I just think that the best ones are not commercialised or universal. They are the quirky oddities that families know, love and expect. Delia’s turkey risotto every boxing day, for example.
I also think its important at this time of year to remember that Christmas isn’t joyful for everyone. It may be their first without a loved one. Grief has an uncanny way of rearing its head during festivities. Perhaps, this year particularly, people affected by the pandemic may have less cause to celebrate. Perhaps they have lost a job, are struggling financially or their mental health has suffered with the many weeks at home and lack of contact. Perhaps some of their family can’t be with them at Christmas due to restrictions.
For us, it will be our third Christmas without Matty. I cannot believe the time that has elapsed. We are still finding our way and building new traditions. This year will be our first living together as a blended family and I hope that in itself will reveal new rituals which we can enjoy each year. However, it also feels particularly poignant, as being together for all of it, somehow feels like it may make the absence more pronounced.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or less than joyful, you can make choices that help. Whether its taking a step back from the high expectations and commercialisation that Christmas brings, or sharing with other family members how you are feeling. Perhaps asking for some help to share the load might be beneficial. Whatever you need to do, please don’t feel guilty prioritising your wellbeing over the perfect card sent on time or the best elf ideas. Instead, why not try to let some of it go.
Fortunately for me, our little house elf didn’t seem to receive our forwarding address when we moved house this summer. However, I am unlikely to ever part with our real tree, complete with fairy lights and treasured decorations.
I hope that you have a restful Christmas and can prioritise what is most important to you.