What comes to mind when you think of Christmas? Is it happy times with friends and family, enjoying a break, relaxing and something to look forward to. Or is it stressful, full of family disappointments and sadness?
There are so many things to organize, presents to buy and sometimes those occasions with family can be uncomfortable and not overly pleasant, and then there are the crowds to contend with to buy presents and food. Sounding familiar?
As in everyday life, there may be things that can go a little bit astray at this time of the year. However with simple planning and decisions on your part can make all the difference to your enjoyment of this holiday period.
Here are some tips to survive and enjoy your Christmas.
- Remember you only have control over your behavior. Christmas is no different than any other time of the year. It is unrealistic to suddenly expect your mother to accept your partner or that your father will be happy to have all your children or that sibling rivalry will suddenly disappear just because it is Christmas if it doesn’t occur any other time of the year. Go to these gatherings with the decision that YOU will do all you can to enjoy the day. Bring your smile and laughter, and it is up to the other people gathered how they will react.
- Spread the Christmas spirit. Whilst shopping for all those presents, and of course the Christmas food, decide before hand that this is all part of a wonderful celebration. Wish the checkout operators a Merry Christmas; thank the assistants for their directions, and most importantly don’t leave everything until the very last minute. When you hear the “Scrooges” complaining about ‘this time of the year’ and the commercializing of Christmas, remember everything is viewed through your own perception. Christmas, like anything will be commercialized if that is what you believe it is. I choose to think of this time as a time of celebration, a time to spend with family and friends, a time of great happiness. If people you come in contact with choose to be miserable during this time, don’t allow them to suck you into their “pity party”.
- Set a Christmas budget. Decide before you go shopping the amount of money you will spend on each present, and your food budget. If you simply cannot afford to buy presents, look for alternatives. Give the gift of your time, make some homemade biscuits or offer to spend a day helping out in their homes or babysit their children. Think beyond the “norm” of gift giving. Wrap your presents as soon as you get them. One less thing to do on Christmas Eve! You may choose to buy presents for your immediate family only. Explain to your family and friends that this is what you are doing this year. If they choose to give you a gift anyway, that is their choice. You do not need to feel that you have to go out and purchase a gift for them just because they did for you.
- Write a list. This is one of my favorite tips. By writing down all the things needed to be done before Christmas, Christmas Eve and especially Christmas Day, when a family member or friend asks what they can do to help, you have you list ready, and they can choose what to do. Share the workload – people actually like to help.
- Set reasonable expectations for yourself. If you are hosting Christmas, things do not have to be perfect. Your family and friends would much prefer a happy relaxed host, than a perfect table setting. If you are stressed and barking orders or complaining about having to do it all, no-one will enjoy the perfectly cooked meal or absolutely pristine environment. Expect a mess, and the possibility of a few spilled drinks. Set up the meal in an easy to clean room, or if you are lucky enough to have Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere, go outside. Feeding a large group of people in your dining room with the beautiful cream carpets may look beautiful, but will not do much for your stress levels (or the stress levels of your guests) if you are constantly worrying about food or drink being split.
- Play music. I love listening to Christmas Carols at this time of the year, but any type of uplifting music will work well.
- Look after yourself. After a large meal you tend to feel sluggish. Why not go for a walk or play a game with the children? One of my favorites is to set up the table tennis table and have some fun with all our guests. There have been many wonderful years of table tennis and boche in our back yard after the Christmas lunch has settled.
- If you are alone this Christmas why not volunteer to help out at a local charity or invite someone from your neighborhood to share Christmas with you if they will also be alone? Organize a special movie or book or treat that you have been looking forward to just for this day.
- Be tolerant of others beliefs at Christmas. This period of time means many things to many different people. Whether you celebrate through worship at a church or through meeting with friends or family, or both, understanding that your way isn’t the only way. Sharing love, laughter and joy in whichever way you choose to celebrate can only create more love, laughter and joy for everyone on the planet.
I would like to wish every a Wonderful Christmas and New Year. Sending you all heartfelt thanks for your support, and may this Christmas be all that you could wish for. I know mine will be.