What does Christmas mean to you?
For some the Christmas period has religious connotations, others enjoy quality time with friends and family and for some it’s an excuse to indulge in a cheeky midday mulled wine. I personally enjoy the opportunity to awaken my normally dormant competitive streak and absolutely annihilate my family at charades. But whatever you enjoy about the seasonal period – write it down – perhaps on a post-it note which you can stick on your forehead in the spirit of a Christmas game (that I’d undoubtedly win) – and REMEMBER it.
I was recently asked to comment on BBC Radio 5 Live about Christmas shopping. Apparently, 1 in 5 people have already completed their Christmas shopping and are ready to roll. Complete respect to these unnaturally organised people but, dare I say it, have they turned the whole thing into a bit of a ‘job’?
I can almost hear you shout at your computer/tablet/mobile screen as I type this. ‘But it IS a job for me, I have to order a turkey, make up beds, buy 374 presents for family, hide the whisky from Great Aunt Joan, arrange the decorations etc etc’. And I hear you – I really do.
BUT… how about you don’t?
How about you retrieve that metaphorical post-it note from your forehead and concentrate on what you love about Christmas and put that firmly on your ‘to do’ list and sack off the other stuff?
I know this is a highly impractical suggestion for parents (‘Don’t worry little Humperdink – you don’t have any presents this year but this slightly unhinged writer on the internet told me to do what I LOVE so I’m glugging Prosecco and dancing naked to The Fairytale of New York by The Pogues, Happy Christmas Son!’). But I do think it’s entirely possible to do a little more of what you love and a little less of what you don’t.
If family is a complex issue for you consider spending Christmas day with just your immediate loved ones.
If you don’t like cooking, book a pub lunch.
If you hate Christmas shopping, turn it into a game for adults. Tackiest mug competition? Secret Santa? Babysitting vouchers? That way you can avoid the shopping for hours and spending tonnes of money on things people don’t want or need and that you don’t want or need to buy them.
Avoid the parent at the school gates who is talking about the must-have toys for children. (As a side note most of these must-haves are so called because adult advertising execs have told adult parents that their children must-have them. My eldest is 8 and we have yet to buy her anything deemed a must-have by society and she is blissfully unaware of these items that she must-have. Which renders them less of a must-have item for her and more a could-have-if-I-was-actually-aware-of-them item.)
Finally – and this was revolutionary for us last year – if you don’t like turkey, don’t cook it. Sounds pretty blinkin’ obvious but not abiding by consumer rules dictated to us by society really takes some of the pressure off (both you and the turkeys who must also be feeling some serious Christmas stress). Which is why my (Christmas) spirits always soar when people proudly state they always BBQ their Christmas lunch or spend Christmas day on the beach. Sure, it might not sound like Christmas to you – but if it does to them then who cares?
I guess the take home message is you don’t have to buy into Christmas exactly as the media is selling it to you. Make your own traditions, set your own rules, create your own hype.
As for me? I’ll be mainlining Prosecco and dancing naked to The Fairytale of New York before becoming Harrison Charade Champ 2018. It’d be rude to break with our own family traditions (apologies in advance to the in-laws who are joining us this year).