We all love a bit of holiday cheer, right? As the night’s draw in throughout Autumn we’re comforted by the anticipation of twinkly lights, the scent of cinnamon and cloves wafting through the house and the first sounds of Christmas music that immediatley flood the senses with festive nostalgia.
Now, this is a bit of a taboo and No-one wants to be the one to admit it. But here’s the thing. Christmas time can be a bit of a headache too. In fact, it can create in you such an aversion to tinsel and the continual playing of BandAid, that you think you might actually lose your mind.
So this is my slightly controversial take on enjoying Christmas this year.
In a nutshell, I’d say; go against the stream and actually lower the expectations. Yes, lower them. There I said it.
We’ve all done it – in the months leading up to December we dream big dreams for Christmas and they grow, boy do they grow, in our imaginations until reality comes along with a cruel sharp needle. And…. Pop. My thinking is, that if we bring down the expectations a bit, we reduce the pressure BIG TIME. Scaling it right back, we might just be able to enjoy it for what it is, without it getting so… Complicated. Here’s where I’m going to lower my expectations this year so that I actually have my best Christmas yet:
1. The Christmas Tree.
This has to be the biggie for me because I have previous form with my pine friends. One year I got so obsessive over the symmetry of the tree lights that I had a serious toddler moment and pushed the whole damn tree over. I’m not proud of it. It was not my finest moment. But it happened. I was that person. A few years ago I had issues with the symmetry again (see a pattern here folks?) and I convinced Mr C to chop a bit off the bottom of the tree so the branches would be more even. Only, I kept him hacking at the poor thing and he wasn’t about to mess with a deranged woman pushing for the perfectly symmetrical Christmas tree. Well this perfectly symmetrical tree ended up about three foot tall and looked beyond ridiculous. Last year I took issue with the tree being wonky (to be fair, it was) and my ongoing critique of the lopsided Pine gave me a headache never mind everyone else.
Before you go and get all judgy on me, you know you’ve been there too. Everyone has. Maybe not to the bizarre extent of my OCD ways, but every household sees some kind of tension over choosing it, transporting it, getting it into it’s stand or decorating it. Putting up the Christmas tree is not how they make it out to be in the movies.
It seems to be such a big deal. I’ve made it a big deal. But when you take a step back, you’ll see; it’s a tree. A tree. It’s supposed to be a fun part of Christmas. But it’s still just a tree. It really doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. Imperfect, if it means a happier home, is fast becoming pretty perfect to me.
2. That Christmas dress.
Why oh why do we do this to ourselves? It happens twice a year. Once in late spring, ready for your summer holiday and once in early winter, ready for the Christmas party season. We spend weeks or even months, starving ourselves, trying to morph into something we’re not – to fit into one little black dress.
Just buy the next size up and eat the mince pie!
Maybe it’s because I’m in the throws of that first year post-partum roller coaster where you know your body has seen better days. So I have two choices. I can accept it and enjoy all the Christmas food or I can make myself miserable and very probably still be dissatisfied with my physique. Healthy eating as a lifestyle? Fab. Absolutely. Crash dieting just for a twirl under the mistletoe? Nah, I’d rather enjoy something yummy.
3. The Christmas bucket list.
Every year in November I build a bucket list of all the events and Christmas activities I want to
drag take my family along to. Think leisurely mooches around Christmas markets and gliding around an open air ice rink, hand in hand. In my mind this list gives us days full of magic, easy pace and smiley, happy children. It’s what TV adverts are made of.
In reality, the weather’s often soggy and windy, one kid is cold and bored before we’ve even started, another is simultaneously creating a pooplosion in his nappy and shouting for milk (because let’s be real here, he does that every two hours) and another is asking for the 734th time where the wifi is.
This wonderful bucket list would have us legging it all over the North of England every weekend until we’re ready for some kind of Christmas Rehab by the 24th.
I’m all for making memories, and I know, you have to get organised to make it happen. But just take it easy. Relax those expectations. Yep. And go, on, relax them just a teensy bit more. This way, if something doesn’t happen, or heaven forbid, it all goes a bit pear shaped with a tantrum or poop covered infant, then Christmas hasn’t been categorically ruined, causing you to contemplate never celebrating the holiday season again.
Ignore the edited versions of family utopia you see on social media – don’t try and live up to something that doesn’t exist. That Instagram picture you saw that made you want to swap your family for a more compliant one? I’ll bet you ten quid there was a meltdown either side of that idyllic shot.
A decade on from becoming a parent I’m only just starting to make peace with the fact that a day out with kids is unpredictable and, more often than not, hard work – its not a failed experience if you’ve had to count to
a thousand ten a couple of times. Embrace the crazy and enjoy it. They grow up too fast to lose these perfectly imperfect memories.
Sometimes life can throw us curve balls that bring us to our knees and we need loved ones to hold us up until we find our feet again. Sometimes we have to deal with really big stuff. So Let’s not sweat the small stuff and make it bigger than it needs to be.
Christmas. Enjoy it, don’t endure it. Make it work for you, wherever you’re at this year. Go simple. Compare yourselves to no one. And laugh as much as you can.
Mrs C x