Firstly – I need to say – I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I love the decorations, I love the lights and I love the magic. My house is the one with so many lights you could probably see them from outer space, but…
I am finding the Christmas creep is getting stronger and stronger each year. I don’t just mean the Christmas music and decorations in the shops starting in October (or earlier!!), but the pressure to organise catch-ups, end-of-year concerts, kindy/school/sport break ups, parties, attend community events, Christmas shopping, the list just goes on and on. Add all of this onto the fact that by the time the silly season arrives, most people are exhausted and are trying to wrap up all the loose ends from throughout the year before the big day arrives. I have to admit – the lead-up to Christmas can sometimes be overwhelming.
Now, I don’t have all the answers, and I can only speak from experience now that my children are a little bit older (8, 10, and 12), but I have found a couple of things that have brought back the Merry to my Christmas:
1) As my children have grown, we have made our own traditions. Our families (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles) have such a strong influence over what traditions we start with when we have our own children, but after running myself all over town to attend every catch-up and try to continue every tradition, I have found that starting our own traditions and attending celebrations in our local community rather than driving into or across town has helped to take the pressure off.
2) Pick what works for you and do it. In the lead-up to Christmas there is so much external influence to attend Christmas events – markets, parades, light extravaganzas and did I mention markets spread out all over the city. If we had unlimited time, and someone had invented teleporting, these events would be so much fun to attend, but we don’t and no one has made that discovery yet, so we need a plan B.
In the last few years, rather than fighting the crowds in town, we have found local events that have been just as great to attend. A night-time picnic held at the local school with a band playing festive music, or light displays in a local community park can actually be the relaxing holiday experience that we are looking for.
3) This idea links very closely to the ones above – say NO sometimes. I know this is hard – and I must admit I need to take my own advice a bit more, but we don’t have to attend every catch-up, every presentation, every party – it is ok to rest and prioritise what is important to you rather than what is important to someone else.
My motivation to say ‘yes’ to everything in years gone by was so that my children could experience all the wonderful things at Christmas, or to maximise some ‘quality time’ that we haven’t managed to find throughout the year. But over the years my children have forgotten the many Christmas markets, parties, and Christmas Tree lightings we have rushed to get to.
My children have remembered the nights when we set up our Christmas tree (and whose turn it is to put the star on top of the tree), they have remembered the afternoons we spent in the front yard with Christmas music playing while we untangle and hang Christmas lights through the garden. They remember the time we spent together at home watching Christmas movies for the 20th time. These times are what my children have remembered because these are the times when I am not rushing – when we are actually enjoying ourselves.
So, whichever way you choose to approach the last few months of this year, I hope it is a way that works for you and your family. Just remember, it might take a few tries to find what works for you but from what I have learnt, less is more – except for fairy lights – there is no such thing as too many fairy lights.