When Summer holidays and Christmas collide with so many end of year functions, not to mention heaps of visitors from out of town for the summer break… it is very easy to completely forget the rest and recovery part of this time of year. In fact, I can hear readers laugh out loud when I mention relaxing. How often, after a busy weekend, we arrive at Monday morning needing another weekend to recover… I don’t intend for our family to begin the year totally exhausted from a crazy busy holiday season. I think I am finally learning to go with the flow and let perfection go, not always intentionally, and still be be okay with that.
Se7en+1 Things You Don’t Have To Do To Enjoy Christmas
- You don’t Have to Kondo Marie Your Entire House To Enjoy Christmas:
- You Don’t Have to Clean Every Corner of Your Home To Enjoy Christmas:
- You Don’t Have to Prepare Ten Course Sit Down Dinners To Enjoy Christmas:
- You Don’t Have to Read Twenty Million Christmas Books or Even Have Co-Ordinating Gift Wrap:
- You Don’t Have to Go To Every Single Event, Just Because You Were Invited:
- You Don’t Have to Bake Twenty Million Biscuits for Everyone You Know To Enjoy Christmas:
- You Don’t Have to do Marathon Shopping Trips, To Enjoy Christmas:
- You Don’t Have to Buy the Whole World to Enjoy Christmas:
So many projects, so little time… not to mention all those projects you were truly committed to at the beginning of the year. If this was the year to get all your photos into albums, or all your recipes into a book (ahem), or declutter your entire house… and you have barely begun… then it is time to let that project go and all the guilt go with it. Christmas can really happen without all those projects complete. If it is something you need to do, pack it up nicely, box it away and plan to do it next year. If you were planning to declutter every drawer and closet in the house and you have only done two of them… may I suggest that you begin by shutting the closet doors and setting aside time in the new year when you will be fresh and energised and ready to tackle “those” projects… and if you can’t face them even then… let them go forever, they can’t be that important to you, rather tackle the things that count.
I know that for some of you this is tantamount to “shock and horror.” And I confess for years I got up before dawn on Christmas Eve morning to scrub the house, and change all the sheets and wash all the windows. One Christmas at nine months pregnant was enough to put a stop to all of that… now I am just happy we can see out the windows, and if every one actually gets into their beds, or any bed for that matter, timeously, then I am winning. It’s not so much “letting things go” as “enough is enough,” really. And for us on Christmas Eve the project is Roast Dinner for one of our grannies, not spring cleaning. We do a quick tidy up, and sweep the floor… and the rest is about preparing a feast.
When you live in a holiday town, during holiday season, you have to be prepared for tons of visitors. Now there is prepared and then prepared. The kind of preparations we do are: join us as we are… if we are having a cup of coffee then join us, if we are having lunch then join us for that too…if we are going for an amble then amble with us. It certainly does not mean that we have a freezer full of pre-packed, pre-prepared meals… and that we set the table three times a day, for massive roast dinners and the house perpetually in “high season visitor mode.” It also doesn’t mean that I spend hours preparing meals… It just means that in the summer we tend to eat endless meals that look somewhat like picnics. And lets face it, anyone can grab a plate and pull up a chair and join a picnic anytime. And let’s face it a bowl of cherries or a slice of watermelon is a feast!!!
Christmas means so many things to different folk, and thats the point… for some folk they need to bake and others need to decorate. For us we bake a little, make a little and read a little… and then we play a lot. We don’t have to make millions of new decorations… one or two crafty things is enough, you don’t have to do every single lovely tradition you come across. Firstly, you can’t and secondly you will end up exhausted and hate it. Don’t try and keep up with what every one you know is doing, what every other blog is doing, and any of the endless magazines are doing, not to mention Pinterest is not exactly essential to your celebration. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder and if your Christmas dinner means that you get candles onto the table, then that is special enough – you don’t have to have hand made coasters, matching serviette holders and table glitter… What works for you is actually fine.
This is one of the toughest things for folks, there are so many activities on at this time of year and all of them are wonderful… and yet for them to be wonderful for your family, you just can’t possibly do them all. For our family, Christmas Carols are important… we won’t miss our annual Christmas Carol even at friends… not as important is driving to the city to see the lights and taking in a show. For other families it might be different. I try to stagger things, somewhat… and I know when we are going to have lots of late nights for little people not to plan anything in the morning, let them sleep in. There will be plenty of time for breakfast at the beach once all the Christmassy events are over. The biggest thing for me is to decide what we are doing, and then enjoying those things… nobody wants to get to two days before Christmas… and think “not another event” if that is how you feel, cancel the calendar as if you have a dreaded spotted disease, you do its called fatigue. Declare a story night… hop into bed with the kids and go to sleep. Everyone will be better for it.
Be careful of falling into the trap of one year you made all your friends a handmade gift, and the next year you made them all a handmade gift and baked a batch of cookies, and the next year you made a handmade gift and baked a batch of cookies and gave them a notebook. You can see where I am going here… Don’t build upon and build upon. Somewhere along the line commercial Christmas gifting went insane and you don’t have to follow suite. Baking a batch of cookies is fun, baking twenty batches is grim… bake the batch and share it with some friends and Christmas baking be done. I don’t have a single friend that would like to know that I stayed up all night making one more batch of cookies, just for them. All my friends would prefer that I slept and was awake enough to sit at the table and chat with them the next day…
Christmas shopping is the one thing that everyone I know dreads. Months of planning goes into this. Shopping trips are co-ordinated with military precision and then someone steals your parking spot and everything falls apart. Don’t fall into the trap of shopping like there is no tomorrow. There are times of day when the shops are not hectic, and first thing in the morning is not that time (just saying)… the evening turns out to be a much better time for dashing to the store. After an afternoon nap and a swim, everyone is fresh and we head for the stores, most folk have left by then, especially those that have been shopping since dawn. Plan your shopping, go in have fun, look at all the Christmas stuff and leave… you just don’t need to go mad.
The thing is, with Christmas marketing starting earlier and earlier, folks begin their shopping earlier and earlier… this sounds like a wonderful plan, but actually… it is a plot to make you shop more. You may have bought your favourite Aunty a gift in November… and then saw a sweet notebook and added it, then spotted a cute Christmas thingy and added that, then oh some special christmas chocolates… and what about those pretty soaps and before you know it the wonderful gift that you bought is looking somewhat lost amidst all the other stuff, and you are heading into a very lean January. I don’t have any friends, or even family, that would like to know that I completely overspent on their gift and now January is going to be almost impossible to survive. Have a list of folk you are gifting, decide what you have available to spend and then gift them and enjoy gifting them. There is no such thing as a gift that isn’t good enough, this is no time to be keeping up with the Joneses… I imagine our friends want to feel loved, honestly a bunch of lavender from the garden or a quick loaf of bread can be the best gift ever, if the recipient needs something pretty or forgot to buy bread. The anxiety of having overspent, or the dread of facing a month of “what’s for supper” is quite enough to keep any crazy shopping moments in check.
Don’t worry about what you should be doing, taking a breath and have some fun… block out chunks of time to read a book rather than scrubbing the oven or defrosting the freezer. This is not the season for chores, this is the season for relaxing and reflecting. Just because the world goes a little mad doesn’t mean that you have to join the craziness. I am guessing time with friends and catching up is a bigger priority than powering your way through stampeding shoppers… the shops will be open after Christmas there is no need to stockpile. Long before all the fun stops, give yourself a break, if a vital gift is missing or you forgot to grab an important dinner item… it isn’t actually a crisis but rather from this time forward, it will become an amusing anecdote to pack into your family-lore. Over here we are not so much about perfection, and all about making memories.