Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. But often it can be a time of stress, confusion, expense and gluttony.
The original meaning of Christmas is traditionally considered to be the celebration of the birth of Jesus; however, it seems likely that holding a celebration towards the end of December dates back much further than Christianity.
Feasting and partying at the end of the year is more likely to have been a celebration of the passing of the shortest day of the year, and welcoming in the ever-lengthening days as we move towards warmer seasons.
I quite like the idea that humans in Western Europe have celebrated around this time of year for thousands of years. That gives me a bit of a buzz. Anyway, Crimbo can get stressful these days. The meaning and the way in which we celebrate certainly has changed over the years and not necessarily for the better.
Below are a handful of things you can do to help keep yourself level over the festive season.
Be Honest With Others (And Yourself)
If you are feeling like you are overwhelmed with the situation, don’t be afraid to say “no.” We all try so hard to pack in as much as possible that we often forget to enjoy the time ourself.
It’s not possible to visit everyone on your list, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t manage it. The person you miss out on your rounds might well be relieved – they’re knackered, too.
Notice The Season
Because Christmas is such a busy time, we often forget to take actual notice of the things that are going on around us. Take a moment to get outside and walk through the park.
Enjoy the frost and ice. Think how our ancestors would have felt – the relief that winter was half way through and spring was around the next corner.
Make sure to catch some quiet time for yourself here and there. Although it’s nippy, winter is starkly beautiful.
When there’s no one around and you get a chance to chill for a while, make sure you get into your pyjamas, or house trousers, whatever you call them.
Psychologically, you will be instantly relaxed and you can recharge your batteries a touch. I’ve only owned a pair of house trousers for the last couple of years, I seriously can’t believe how I ever survived without them now.
House trousers are the most important thing I own.
During Christmas I normally travel home to see my family. But quite often I end up just sleeping at my mum and dad’s and spending the rest of the time down the pub with my friends.
Sure, it’s good to catch up with old pals, but Christmas is a time to see your folks. You might not be that bothered, but they will be, and they won’t be around forever. Connect with them whilst you have the chance.
Not all families get on brilliantly, but make sure you are the one making the effort to smooth the path. Be the better person.
Have A Walk
It’s really easy to just put ourselves on lockdown over the festive period. Don’t do it. Get out there. Have a look around. Feel the cold on your face.
Your body will thank you for it, and your mind will too. There’s nothing like getting back into those house trousers after a nippy stroll along the canal. It makes them feel ten times more comfortable.
We should all take more time to help other people at this time of year. Older folk and the homeless suffer big time in winter. Not only do they miss loved ones, but they are more likely to end up cold and sick.
If you can, lend a hand at a charity somewhere. They are always begging for help, and Christmas is a great time to get involved. You’ll be helping other people, which has its own reward, but it will also make you feel much better about yourself.
People in modern societies have forgotten that we are actually part of a society. Christmas is a time to be thankful, and to pass some love around.
Don’t Compare Your Experience
By early November, the media has started bombarding us with Christmas-based shit to buy. Adverts include cuddly puppies, happy families and exquisite parties.
Don’t believe the hype. Adverts are not real life. Don’t compare your Christmas to anyone else’s. For some people, Christmas is a success if they’ve survived the arguing in-laws and not burned the Yorkshire puddings. And that’s fine.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. There’s no such thing as perfection, and most people don’t even get close. Don’t sweat it. Make sure your nearest and dearest have a nice time. That’s all that counts.
As ever, sleep is vital to making sure you survive and thrive over Christmas. Try to get early nights whenever you are in on your own and not doing anything festive.
Also, if you have people staying at your house for any of the holiday season, invest in some earplugs and an eye mask – you’ll need them.
Without enough sleep you can’t have as much fun, and you’ll be snappy and grumbly, and no one likes that, do they?
Get Yourself A Prezzy
Go on, you’ve earned it. Buy yourself something nice. Or perhaps promise to give yourself something after Christmas has finished; that way you have something nice to look forward to once the bedlam has subsided and peace once again reigns on earth.
Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the soon to be born spring.