This year seems a good time to reset Christmas. The financial crisis and a hard few years for many makes it seem like the right time. I have always felt pressured at Christmas time to make it special for every one else, which spoiled it for me. Being a single parent with little family it was my responsibility to make it seem special for my children.
Everything always felt rushed as I tried to fit preparation into my busy life. I would brave busy shopping outlets and make or buy thoughtful gifts that I couldn’t really afford, be up until midnight decorating reindeer biscuits or snowflake cupcakes for hampers, and write cards with scribbled letters inside for that annual catch up before the last post (which always crept up on me). I would bake lots of festive treats, attend parties and gatherings when I would rather have my feet up, have the perfectly wrapped presents waiting under the tree, and make the delicious Christmas dinner before I rushed off to do a shift at work. I was always exhausted by the time the season was over which wasn’t a good way to start the year. I also always felt this tinge of disappointment as, although I get enjoyment from seeing my children and others happy, I didn’t feel like I had experienced Christmas.
It has improved since I retired, but this year I want to slow it down even more and simplify Christmas. This year I am going to have a more peaceful and intentional Christmas and this is how I intend to do it.
- I have minimised my Christmas decorations. All the extra clutter adds chaos to my brain and so I have collected things from nature to decorate and just chosen a few of my favourite pieces to put out. I don’t have to get all the ornaments, snow globes and tinsel out. I decluttered the Christmas boxes last year and intend to do it again this year.
- I have been shopping throughout the year and reduced the amount of presents I buy and make. I always gave lots of hampers away but this put a massive pressure on me the week before Christmas. Conversations with friends and family have meant that we are all relieved to be spending less money this year.
- I have turned down invitations to events I don’t want to go to, and organised meet ups and activities to fit into my life. I am spending quality time with the people that mean the most to me over a number of weeks rather than try to cram everyone into a few days.
- On the special days I will reduce my social media presence and give my attention to those I am with.
- This year everyone is providing and bringing part of Christmas dinner so that I am not spending the morning in the kitchen, stressing. We are also having our family Christmas dinner at my daughter’s house, and going to the family of Mr S for tea. I am not putting the pressure on myself to provide it and I will not have the washing up to do afterwards.
- I have already thought of and prepared activities that we can do on the day to have fun together and we will also go for a walk and chill. I want to be totally present on the day and give my family my full attention rather than washing up and preparing the next meal. I want to experience Christmas mindfully.
- I have given to the food bank and will contact people that I know will be alone this Christmas, even if it is just a text. Christmas is not a happy time for everyone’ especially those whom have lost some one. I want to be intentionally kind still, even though in some ways I am being selfish to ensure that I enjoy Christmas.
- I will keep an eye on my finances. I don’t want to blow my budget now and start my year in deficit.
- I will pace myself and plan time to chill in the run up to the big event so that I feel relaxed on the day. I have allowed myself to drop some family traditions as they can start to feel like obligations.
- I will stick to my goals. There is no point in my healthy eating the rest of the year and then eating my weight in chocolate on the day. Family have been asked not to buy me sweets and I will just enjoy the festive treats at the meals.
- I will lower my expectations. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, the main thing is that I am lucky enough to spend Christmas with loved ones and people who care about me.
- I aim to be mindful, take photos and absorb every minute of the time with family. My grandson was only 2 months old last year and so I am going to enjoy him playing with the boxes and probably ignoring the presents.
Are you being more intentional about your Christmas preparations?