The festive season is upon us. The Christmas adverts are well and truly on TV and “I’m a celebrity” has started.
‘Last Christmas’ by Wham has even been heard playing, which means we are in full swing.
Most years I start our preparations straight after Remembrance Sunday. Not this year.
In fact I was interviewed by a UK magazine back in the summer on how we keep our Christmases simple. I explained how by planning and preparing in advance it keeps the pressure at bay. But it’s about much more than that – it’s about keeping things in perspective.
This year I haven’t planned much in advance (I’ve had other priorities) so does that mean I am stressed?
Not at all. In fact this year is my most stress free one yet with regard Christmas.
During 2015 a valuable lesson has continued to be learned – I believe stress doesn’t really exist. Or at the very least external stress does not. Stress is fear – internal, immobilising, terrifying fear. You can choose whether or not to be stressed. Although I’m not suggesting that the decision is an easy one. It requires the practice and art of letting go and having faith – I’ve been on my own journey of letting go for a few years now. It’s about facing your fears and knowing that whatever life throws at you, you will handle it. You may not control it but you’ll come out the other side somehow.
(Please understand I am in no way undermining those who feel stress, it feels unbelievably real. Today isn’t the day for me to post about my personal beliefs, although I will at some point – because it may be of help to others.)
I haven’t always felt like this. Maybe that’s one reason life decided to teach me a few hard lessons along the way.
When I used to feel stressed this time of year, what I was really experiencing was fear that Christmas wouldn’t be perfect. We’re sold an ideal of what life should be like at this time of year. The word ‘sold’ being very deliberate. Just yesterday I was watching a Christmas TV advert demonstrating how to do it perfectly and tried to identify whether behind the actor’s eyes I could see what their actual life was really like. And there’s nothing like a cosy Christmas movie to remind us just how dysfunctional our own family is, is there?
What if you had just 6 months to live, would coordinating napkins and getting a gift for your boss be so very important?
It’s all about perspective. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t coordinate your tableware. If you enjoy doing it then hell yeah you should do it. If it’s making you feel ill from stress – then you shouldn’t. And one thing I do strongly believe is if you can’t afford the commercialised idea of a perfect Christmas then definitely don’t buy what they’re selling you. Probably my best Christmas was the year we didn’t even have a tree, and opened a couple of gifts while lying in bed. We were having our house renovated. 6 months pregnant with our 1st child and I felt the most blessed I’d ever felt.
3 out of the last 4 seasons I’ve had life-changing events happen unexpectedly or with little notice. Last December I’m convinced I had a premonition as the decision to take Christmas off was made a few months before. It worked a treat and once again we are going out for Christmas lunch, which without a doubt works for us again this year. Maybe it won’t next year, but I know for a fact I do not want to cook Christmas day dinner for 14-17 people this year. So I’m not. Instead I’m kicking back and hanging out with my nearest and dearest and appreciating that we are all together on the big day. I’m embracing gratitude.
So expect some fun-filled posts from me over the next few weeks – I’ll be focusing on the ‘nice-to-dos’ and not the ‘should-dos’. Never do anything you ‘should do’ – the ‘shoulds’ are debilitating. Do Christmas your way.