For the past 15 years, Christmases have been joyful but stressful as we’ve split ourselves between my family (in the North East) and my husband’s family (in the North West). It’s always been a whirl wind of packing, driving, flitting between places, dropping things off at ours only to leave immediately and travel another hour to somewhere else. As we’ve added a dog and 2 children into the mix, things have only become more full on and (quite literally) squashed. We’ve loved spending time with all our family and I wouldn’t swap the Christmas adventures we’ve had so far, but this year my eldest said she wanted to stay home for Christmas.
- She didn’t want to spend Christmas travelling.
- She wanted to put out milk and cookies for Santa and have him come to our house.
- She wanted a simpler Christmas.
So we decided that we would try it and actually embrace this idea of a simpler Christmas all round.
A ‘simple Christmas’ means different things to different people, but for us, it looks a little bit like this.
Creating more space between Christmas visits
After spending Christmas day at home, we’ll still go to visit both our family’s a few days later, but we won’t try to piggy back them on one another and there won’t be any pressure to create the ‘Christmas day’ experience. Hopefully we’ll create some new Christmas traditions to share with our families over this time.
More space to relax in the run-up to Christmas
We’re limiting the amount of days we plan for Christmas outings this year and leaving more space to relax. Baking mince pies at home, walking in the open air and having spontaneous adventures. Sometimes it feels like you need to be on every ‘Santa Train’ or in every ‘Nordic Beer Tent’ but Christmas is about the small stuff as well. The feeling of Christmas as well as the doing of Christmas. Finding that balance between ‘being’ and ‘doing’ is our aim for this year.
Focusing on giving, rather than gifting
Christmas is all about giving isn’t it and it’s probably the time of year that we feel most generous to those around us. We’re trying to keep the spirit of that by:
- Giving to charity
- Being kind (we make and do a yearly kindness advent calendar at home)
- Giving thoughtful and ethical gifts where we can, but not beating ourselves up about buying our daughter the toy she really wants. Small shifts still make a difference.
Enjoying the making of Christmas
By giving ourselves more time, we’re hoping to enjoy the making of Christmas. I really enjoy cooking so embracing that process over Christmas will be great. My daughter has picked out a ‘Christmas Pudding Baked Alaska’ (I know, I’m not sure how I feel about that either) she wants to have for dessert so we’ll make that together in advance. When we work together and enjoy the process of doing something, it feels good rather than stressful.
Letting go of high expectations
I’ll admit that I do covet the perfect ‘Pintrest’ Christmas, but beating ourselves up for not having a colour coordinated tree, or cooking the perfect dinner is a recipe for stress and tension. Lets just embrace what we’re good at and accept the imperfect stuff as part of ‘our’ Christmas. No-one ever looks back and remembers how perfectly the presents were wrapped. They remember the fun and the unique things like parading the turkey round the table or the excitement of opening a stocking left at the end of the bed.
I’m running a ‘Mindful Advent Calendar’ on my Facebook page this December, with mindful tips and gifts every day. Please do like and follow my page if you’d like to join in.