Christmas is magical—for most people, but some wonder where the magic of Christmas gone or even dread this time of year. With Christmas cards appearing in the shops before Halloween it can also feel like Christmas has been hijacked by big business.
I love the bright-coloured lights and the scent of pine from the trees. I like finding little unasked-for gifts that surprise and delight my family. Witnessing the magic of Christmas through the eyes of my young grandchildren is truly what it’s about. And of course, any unusual shaped gifts under the tree bearing my name always pique my curiosity. But I too wish for a simpler, less chaotic and less hyped-up time. If Christmas is not all razzmatazz for you, how then to recapture the magic of Christmas?
The magic of Christmas – done your way
How is it possible to balance the desire for cheer and goodwill versus the commercialism and hype? I don’t think this is an easy task—but I am equally sure it’s do-able. Society is unlikely to change how Christmas is, anytime soon. So, decide what’s right for you and your family and then do it your way. If putting your Christmas tree up and wearing your Christmas jumper begins on the 1st—go for it. If you wish to wait until a few days before the big ho-ho—that’s totally OK too.
Many years ago, one Christmas Eve morning, I was so exhausted, I knew I could not drive 100 miles to see and stay with my family in Leicestershire. My daughters were disappointed and it was way too late to buy a turkey. So, I told my daughters I would cook anything they wanted. They chose avocado and prawns, followed by home-made Chinese dishes followed by Baked Alaska. It was the strangest yet yummiest meal ever. In the afternoon we watched 2 films, ate chocolates and most of all my daughters accepted the last-minute changes with grace. It was the quietest yet one of the best Christmases we had.
Make your own Santa’s List
Beyond gifts, what would you like your Christmas to look like? There are frequently family arguments about who goes where when—but what where would your ideal Christmas be spent? Who would you like to spend these special days with? And, who do you dread spending time with? Write these things down—don’t worry yet about sorting it out. Just begin with a list. Now which parties YOU wish to attend—rather than feel you have to attend. It’s OK to say a polite ‘no’ to some invitations. And if you are cooking a big meal for family and friends, what do you want and need in terms of support?
Making a list (or several) of the what, when and where for Christmas, makes it much easier to work out how you are going to do it all. A present list makes life easier with less running around town or trawling aimlessly through websites. A meal list with the ingredients, allows you to consider what can be prepared in advance and streamlines shopping and time in the kitchen too.
There’s always lot so much that needs doing in the run-up to Christmas—so if you’re the one who usually does it all—buying and wrapping the presents, decorating the tree, being a logistician for the children’s events, and doing all of the cooking—change it this year. Encouage, motivate and if necessary ask firmly for some help with everything that needs doing. Even a young child can help you—if you make it into a game rather than a chore.
Family gatherings mixed with alcohol can be a recipe for disaster. Perhaps you have an Aunt Emily who makes pointed comments about the Christmas Cake from M&S—making you feel guilty that you didn’t make your own. Or an Uncle Dave who drinks too much and says things he shouldn’t say. Or a friend who makes you feel queasy when you see a sprig of mistletoe in their hand. It’s often impossible to completely avoid these people at Christmas, after all, they are your family and friends. But no-one says you have to spend the whole day with them if you don’t wish to. For those who are truly challenging to be with—plan a way of seeing them briefly and/or not letting them overstay their welcome. That may sound harsh, but no-one should be made to feel uncomfortable, picked-on or disrespected over Christmas.
Feeling lonely this Christmas?
Do you fear being lonely this Christmas? Know you are not alone. So many people, sadly, don’t have a family to be with over Christmas. Friends say, ‘come and join us’but seeing them with their family can make it feel even worse. If Christmas alone is looming, choose to do something that makes it slightly better. Choose lovely food for yourself—it doesn’t have to be a traditional meal—choose something that love to eat and drink. Decide to do something during the day—so the 4 walls are not closing in on you and the hours are not slowly ticking by.
Loneliness and being alone are not synonymous, yet spending time with like-minded people can help. If budget allows, consider a gift of love to yourself and join one of the many Christmas get-aways, evenings-out, activities or retreats to singles. 101holidays is just one of the many websites with many ideas for solo travellers.
Looking after others who are less fortunate can give you a sense of purpose over this time—as well as camaraderie with others also volunteering. Most towns and cities run a Soup Kitchen and have refuges for the homeless. Even just few hours volunteering can give so much to those in need and it can help you too.
Give yourself the best Christmas gift ever…
Even with your Santa’s list and intentions to ask others for help or to not spread yourself too thinly, it’s still easy to find yourself doing too much and feeling exhausted even before the big day. So, arrange for some ‘me’ time. Take some time to step off the mad-crazy pre-Christmas rush and do something that will restore your inner calm. It may be as simple as taking a long candle-lit bubble bath or going for a walk in your favourite outdoors space where nature will give you back a sense of calm. These mini gifts of love to yourself are not about being selfish—rather when you feel rested, calm and reenergised, you will be able to easily, graciously and abundantly give back to others so that Christmas will be the joyous event it’s meant to be.
Have a merry, magical Christmas—celebrated your way 😊
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