When I was a kid I loved Christmas. It was the event of the year in our house. I adored everything about it. The decorations, the presents, the food, the festive films, the school plays, buying little Christmas presents for my family and friends in Woolworths with my pocket money, it was the best thing about being a kid.
I even loved my school’s annual excursion to the local church for a Christmas service. Although I think this was more to do with getting a couple of hours out of school than anything else! It was a magical experience for myself and my siblings. We were lucky to have these times and for that I am grateful.
Fast forward 25 years and my feelings on Christmas had changed dramatically. After a few god-awful Decembers full of pain and heartbreak, I began to loathe the whole debacle. I felt like Christmas and the build-up to it were being rammed down my throat. Suffocating on what I perceived to be artificial merriness.
Every year I would become more and more irritated until one year I exploded. I had a meltdown during Christmas dinner and stormed out. I didn’t speak to my family and they didn’t speak to me for almost two weeks. It was the worst Christmas I had ever had. I had managed to push away the people that I needed the most at that time.
After this, I realised that just because I wasn’t a fan, didn’t mean I had to sulk and complain like a petulant child and put a miserable cloud over it for everyone else who loved this time of year. So I endeavoured to make sure that from then on I would make a concerted effort to get into the spirit of things on the big day.
I realised that part of the reason I hated the festive season, aside from some shitty memories, was the insanity of the month of December. It was all just too much and by the time Christmas day rocked up, I was exhausted from the shopping, the crowds, the songs, the events and the overload of food.
So I came up with a survival strategy to make it through all this in one piece. Thus freeing me to have to the energy to genuinely have a good time on the 25th. So here I am passing on my knowledge. These are my tips to help those of you who find it all a bit too much.
Plan in Advance & Shop Early!
Nothing ground-breaking in this tip folks. Just good old-fashioned common sense. Honestly, if you’re one these folks who is running around in the town centre a couple of days before Christmas day, or worse, on Christmas eve, you’re really not doing yourselves any favours.
I know life can be busy and the time runs away with us but trust me some planning and making the effort earlier (as in before December, and even earlier if possible) will be worth the pain.
Imagine all those suckers pushing their way through manic shopping centres the week before and revel in the fact that you’re sat at home in your pyjamas watching Netflix! Ahhhh……bliss.
If You Do Need to Enter the Shopping Tornado…
If for some reason life bites you in the arse and you honestly can’t do your shopping early, the good news is there are some simple hacks to help make the shopping excursions a little bit more tolerable.
Invest in a pair of headphones or earphones and wear them while you shop. This will drown out your 175th hearing of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’ while you browse. Trust me, Slipknot is much better Slade. Metal bitch!
Take regular time-outs if you’re out in the field for a while. Starbucks and Pret are your shining beacons of hope in the chaos. Use them!
Also, wear layers and comfortable footwear. There’s nothing worse than being hotter than a roasting turkey or have throbbing feet’s while you’re queuing for tills.
Lastly, make a list and remember to take it or put it on your phone. This way you will at least have some plan of where you need to go to minimise the pain.
Do Not Be Scared to Turn Down Invitations!
How many times have you been sat at a Christmas event of some sort and secretly can’t wait to get home, take your shoes off and put the kettle on? And I can guarantee that at least half of the other people in that room will be thinking the same thing. Maybe even the hosts!
Often people just throw these things because that’s what they think they should be doing as opposed to actually wanting to. Parties and shindigs can be a lot of fun but the hangovers and the tiredness the day after, not so much.
Be kind to yourselves and graciously say thank you but decline some of the invites. Wouldn’t it be nicer to limit yourself to just a couple of things and really enjoy them than attending everything in a half-arsed manner?
If you’re someone who feels guilty if you don’t say yes, then another strategy is to limit the time you spend at events and stick to it. Unless of course you’re having a ball and don’t want to. In that case go forth and fill your Christmas boots!
Have Christmas-Free Days!
This one can be difficult because it’s hard to find solitary in the midst of the cyclone of Christmas madness. Tis not impossible though! Find a room in the house that isn’t being strangled by tinsel and baubles and declare it a Christmas-free sanctuary.
Stay away from tv channels with advertising if possible. Or switch off the tv altogether and read a book. Go to the cinema or to a gallery. They can be great places to hide from the world for a couple of hours.
Stay off Facebook. I cannot state this one enough! The majority of what you’re missing out on is pictures of people’s Christmas decorations and piles of presents that they’ve wrapped. Enthralling.
Look After Yourself – Physically/Mentally!
Get outside and get some fresh air, away from all the crowds. Go for a nice relaxing walk. Go for a swim. I would imagine most pools aren’t that busy at this time of year. Do some form of gentle exercise to clear the gross, lethargic feeling from mince pie and chocolate overload.
Drink plenty of water. Meditate. Create something (not Christmas-related obvs!). Go for a massage. Do some journaling.
Anything that you can think of as self-care. Most of us are guilty of abandoning our best interests at Christmas but these are the times when these practises will boost our enjoyment. Not squash it.
The thing is, you don’t have to conform to the tyranny of Christmas if you’re not into it. The people that know you and love you will understand that it’s nothing personal if you explain that you’re keeping things a little more low-key.
The rest of the Christmas fascists can take a long walk off a short cliff. Really. No-one is going to die if you don’t go to their annual boxing day buffet!
Christmas needn’t be so ridiculous. These days I tend to just think of it as Sunday dinner with a few presents thrown in and because of this perspective I actually look forward to it now. I hope you manage to make peace with it too.