Little faces lit up with joy, families coming together over good food and laughter and a few days off the treadmill. The most wonderful time of the year.
Why then are so many people looking stressed and knackered? Normally calm children are barely making it to bedtime without a fit of sobbing and minutes are being counted until it’s all over. Credit cards are being abused and fridges stuffed to within an inch of their lives, and don’t forget multiple cautions being flung to the winds.
It’s just all got too much and it needs to stop.
You’ll be glad to hear that for the purposes of this post I’m not going to patronise you by pointing out that there’s a centuries old religious festival at the heart of it all. This much we know.
The problem is that a little bit of sparkle is no longer enough.
Starting in November (or even October) it builds. Lights, presents, plans – buy this, book that, go there and don’t forget to do something else. So much bossiness and all for what? A couple of days, gifts for people you care about and a few nice meals. That’s all.
Everywhere you look we are being urged to spend more, find the perfect present (not just one that’s good enough), cook the most elaborate things, throw our homes open, drink, look amazing in something too short and sequined. We’re supposed to decorate our elegant houses with a festive theme for goodness sake, isn’t Christmas theme enough.
Then we need to preserve the magic by making all this excess and effort seem, well, effortless. Even the adverts tell us so – if you aren’t utterly exhausted and at full stretch, you’re not doing it right.
“Are you all ready yet?” is the question on everyone’s lips. No, of course not and I don’t see why I should be. How long is it going to take to cook a meal, buy and wrap a couple of things and watch some repeats on the telly?
I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s Christmas parade and I’m actually rather partial to mince pies and mulled wine. And, of course, I want my children to have joy-filled, memorable Christmases, but going large on every aspect of the season is simply not going to achieve it. If you’re insufficient on resources for the holidays, sites like kinship care might be able to help you.
Instead, it’ll give us all tension headaches, critically injured bank accounts and an overwhelming sense of failure, none of which is a recipe for good will to all men – or even the ones within punching range.
If you find yourself suppressing the urge to sob into the cooking sherry as you wonder how you’ll get it all done. Take heart, you are not alone and it’s time to lay down your to-do list, kick the clutter under the sofa and have a little sit down or whatever else you fancy.
And if I want anything for Christmas it’s for the vast juggernaut of enforced jollity to pull into the lay by and give us all a rest. Lower expectations, slow the pace and maybe we can actually enjoy this wonderful time of year.
|Christmas is making mugs out of us all|