I must admit to a decided lack of enthusiasm for Christmas this year. As I’ve asked around, I realize I’m not the only one. Why? Is it something in the zeitgeist? Or have I just happened to chat only with like-minded humbug people this year? Maybe it’s just years of up with the tree, shop, wrap, cook, clean, down with the tree, and repeat.
I chuckled when I came across this quote:
I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why, this is Christmas Day!”
― Ray Stannard Baker
Christmas would not happen if mothers drifted along. And that’s been ok – like most parents who want to create the magic of Christmas – I’ve never resented it. The difference this year might be not having children young enough to wait for Santa anymore. Without a strong religious bent in our family, Christmas has mainly been about children.
Now it feels like going through the same motions, but without the anticipation of lit up faces and bursting excitement on Christmas morning. For the first time in my life, I’ve been fantasizing not about finding perfect gifts, but about skipping the whole holiday and being on a beach somewhere with family.
This seasonal burn-out began on Black Friday – and I didn’t even shop or buy a thing that day. The large scale onslaught of consumerism feels like the manipulation it is, and perhaps that’s the crux of it. Why participate, when it feels less celebratory than obligatory?
Because we hope that the magic of the season will prevail, after all.
So, since a Christmas trip to a warm beach is clearly not happening, it’s time to make changes and put meaning back into the holiday – a seasonal attitude adjustment. Here are a few ideas I’m trying:
- Consciously work on gratitude – we’re often too busy to actually tally the wonderful positives in our lives: family, friends, good health, purpose. Little things, big things. Write it all down. It’s a tremendously helpful habit for lifting a dark mood.
- Lower expectations about everything. Which leads to the next point:
- Don’t feel everything must be done the same way it’s always been done. Decorations in every room, including the powder room? Elaborate mantel-scape? Not happening this year, and that’s ok.
- If putting a tree up is a non-negotiable to-do, and it probably is, mix it up a bit. Leave off ornaments that you’ve always put on the tree, but which may feel tired, and add others. Maybe in a different colour scheme. There are plenty in the stores this year.
It’s a small thing, and a bit ironic given my rant about shopping, but colour makes me happy, so turquoise and fresh green ornaments it is! If it makes the chore more fun, so be it. It’s worth it.
- Try to resist the siren call of too much anything – piling on presents for kids who have too much already, food, busy-ness. It should be about quality over quantity – for everything.
- Recognize when assumed expectations and guilt are the basis of choices, and be more intentional and clear ahead of time.
- That said, enjoy finding that perfect gift for loved ones, and in turn, receive, honour and enjoy the thoughtfulness of gift-givers. It really is the thought that warms the heart.
- And remember:
A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”
― Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home
*images above via Pinterest
Update: New little birds in turquoise and green perch in the tree:
Part two: The Christmas escape fantasy continues here. In Paris.