It is so easy to get caught up in the overly commercialised hype of the festive season. As soon as we get over Easter there is only a short break before we see stores filled with everything red, green and shiny. This makes it hard to escape the idealised images of what Christmas is supposed to look like, feel and sound like. But is the ideal Christmas really about overindulgence, extravagance, perfectionism and materialism?
We are continually sold the ideal image of Christmas which looks like the perfect parents creating an elaborate elf of the shelf experience each day in the lead up to Christmas, happy kids enjoying their holiday time together and opening extravagant gifts in their matching outfits. All while the sound of Christmas carols and laugher floats through the home together with the delicious smell of a festive feast that has been prepared to share with friends and relatives from a far. The feeling of happiness surrounds as everyone comes together filled with Christmas spirit, wide smiles on their faces and only joy in their hearts.
But in reality, we know that this is not how Christmas really goes down for everyone. Just like any other day on the calendar, Christmas Day and the days that come before and after can be just as challenging as any other days if not more. For many it is a time of sadness, disappointment and frustration as this time of year delivers a harsh reminder of what is missing in their lives or how they are not meeting the ideal image.
Let’s face it, there is so much pressure to make it all perfect so that everyone is happy. But this is an impossible goal because we can’t control what other people are going to do let alone how they will feel. This is why the festive season is also commonly known as the silly season. Because it is really silly to spend so much time and money preparing for one day which when it arrives finds many feeling so exhausted, stressed and anxious that they can’t fully enjoy it. When this happens you may feel frustrated with yourself because you are not meant to be feeling this way during the festive season and wonder why you are the only person who is not feeling the joy. The reality is no one gets through any day without some tricky unwanted feelings and Christmas day is no different. It is time to get real about what the festive season means to you so you can fully embrace it all this year without the worry of it not turning out as you had hoped.
To set yourself up for a Christmas to remember for the right reasons here are some things to be mindful of as you prepare::
Do a values check.
Ask yourself these questions: What does Christmas really mean to me? How do I want to spend this time? What matters most to me? Who do I want to share this time with? Reflect on your answers and then make your plans accordingly.Have realistic expectations of yourself and of others. Make sure your expectations are aligned with your values to ensure you don’t get off track with your plans.
Not all traditions are keepers.
You don’t have to do what you have always done just for the sake of it or to please others. Do what feel right for you. If there are traditions that no longer align with your values then say no to them or create new ones.
Memories are forever – gifts are quickly forgotten.
In years to come your loved ones will not remember what gifts you bought them for Christmas but they will remember how they felt while they were with you and the experience you shared.
Creating joy does not always have to cost money.
The one thing that your kids want more than anything in the world is your time. They want you to be happy and to spend quality time with them. Embrace your inner child, be silly, have fun and enjoy their company.
Be prepared for things to go wrong.
Things rarely go 100 percent as planned, accept that this is part of life, be flexible and find the humour in it.
Focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t.
Taking the time to reflect on what matters most to you as you prepare for this festive season will reduce the chances of you becoming overwhelmed, stressed and anxious with the pressure of conforming to an ideal that is not obtainable. Keeping it real will allow you to fully experience the joy amongst the challenges this festive season. Sounds like the perfect gift to give yourself this Christmas.
Wishing you and your family a safe and joyful Christmas.
What matters most to you this festive season? Share in the comments at the bottom of this page.