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Perfect Christmas Does Not Exist

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Christmas has just gone and very soon New Year’s Eve will be out of the way, too.  After that, we can breathe a sigh of relief and resume our lives as normal – until next year.  No, I am not a bah-humbug Christmas hater, quite to  the contrary.  I just find Christmas a bit difficult to keep up with at times, and somewhat exhausting.

 

How was Christmas?

We are likely to hear this question quite a lot over the next week or so. 

Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time, full of joy, when families get together and everyone is happy.  It’s enough to watch a few Christmas family films to become convinced that this is the only acceptable way for Christmas to be: picture-postcard perfect.  In most people’s minds it becomes nearly obligatory to have a wonderful, happy Christmas – that’s a heck of a lot of pressure, if you ask me. From there, it may take only a small step to arrive at a sense of failure if one’s Christmas is not exactly perfect…

Why do we expect Christmas to be so special? 

Well, it would be nice if it were.  Imagine children not bickering for once, uncle George not arguing with aunt Georgia, the in-laws not trying to explain to you why you should live your life differently, a spouse helping with the preparations in more than a token manner, and all those lovely dishes actually turning out as intended.  How many people can claim to be able to tick all these boxes?  Probably not many.  And even those who can, they probably have other problems they’d rather avoid.

A short-lived gingerbread house…

My own Christmas wasn’t too bad, thank you – just a small family  affair, with me, my husband and the children.  By staying at home and not having anyone over, we avoided a lot of stress inevitably generated by larger family gatherings.

gingerbread house smallThe children tried to be nice to each other and although they did not always succeed, there was less arguing than usual and we even managed to build and decorate a gingerbread house together without a war breaking out.  That was quite an achievement, I thought, despite the fact that the gingerbread house collapsed within minutes from completion.

 … and  a few stressful things.

My main source of stress was pre-Christmas shopping – I don’t like shopping at best of times, never mind when shops are full of people running around with crazed expressions in their eyes, trying to hunt down the best bargains and not blow their budgets.  I completely ignored Black Friday and Boxing Day sales – all Christmas sales for that matter.  I just can’t stand crowded shopping centers, they leave me completely exhausted.

I couldn’t quite boycott shopping for food, though, and despite trying to be good and disciplined, I bought too much stuff, as usual.  Too much ham and other meat, too much chocolate, too many Christmas puddings.  Come on, how difficult is it to remember I only have a family of four, not forty?  We are now facing a choice between eating it all up and piling on the weight, or throwing food away. Since I feel really guilty about wasting food, I will be watching my waist-line expand, I’m afraid!

The last few days before Christmas were stressful for other reasons, too.  My mother had caught a bad chest infection in early December, which was refusing to get better.  Two weeks ago, my mother-in-law slipped, fell over and broke her right arm.  A few days later, my father-in-law suffered a minor heart attack and had a heart operation.  Thankfully, all went well and he was allowed to go home on Christmas Eve.

I’m pretty sure our situation is not unusual, loads of people get unwell all the time – holidays or not.  In fact, yesterday someone sent me a text message, in error, saying how unlucky she and her husband were, catching a stomach bug over Christmas.

I’m not saying that news of other people’s misfortunes make me feel better, but it just proves that normal life carries on regardless of what expectations we may have for this festive season.

I suppose I should consider myself lucky for not celebrating Thanksgiving.  Not that I hold anything against this particular holiday, but it is just about a month before Christmas and I’m not sure I could cope with both of them without losing my sanity – it just seems like a bit too much pressure to have to organise two celebrations within such a short period of time!

I’d rather relax than pursue perfection.

So, how was your Christmas? Did you get stressed out trying to make it perfect?

Do you think that the general, reinforced by media, expectation for Christmas to be extra-special creates pressure resulting in us enjoying it less?

And a question for those of my readers who celebrate Thanksgiving as well as Christmas – how do you manage with all the organising, shopping and cooking and avoid getting completely stressed out? I’d be very interested to know, maybe I could learn a thing or two…

If you feel somewhat worn out by the latest Christmas celebrations, perhaps try to take it a bit easier next year.  If you feel guilty for not having made it perfect, don’t.  Christmas does not have to be perfect, whatever it may mean, but I think we would all enjoy it more if it were a bit more relaxed.

And on that note –

fireworks

I wish you all a happy, and relaxed,

New Year 2015!

10 thoughts on “Perfect Christmas Does Not Exist

  1. I hope all your family members are on the mend Beata. There is plenty of stress that we put upon ourselves as we try and recreate a Disney Christmas scene in our own homes but it’s also a time of year when people are inevitably more likely to get sick. I wonder if an Antipodean Christmas is as stressful given that no one is juggling preparations with the ‘flu? We definitely set our expectations low this year and tried to do as many things as possible that involved us going out: church carols, events organised by my daughter’s nursery, visiting friends (we didn’t go empty-handed and did help with the washing up!). I’m still left feeling like I could do with a holiday now though…

    Very best wishes to you and yours for 2015 🙂

    1. Thank you, Amy, and best wishes to you, too! You may well be right about the Antipodean Christmas, maybe I should try it one year 😉

  2. timely post. Thanks! I blogged a *very* tongue in cheek post about our xmas day and how it was ruined by the infidel 😉 (or NOT!)
    Spent yesterday with one of my dearest friends ever – we held a discussion along the lines of HOW many more YEARS will she keep hankering after this perfect xmas which doesn’t exist? My answer probably wasn’t the most psychologically healthy one – but I suggested that if she does as I do – expect it to be utterly tosh, do the least preparation for it and prepare for an early night – it might well pleasantly surprise her…. 😉
    Works for me, anyway. x Have a FANTASTIC 2015! x

  3. Lovely post, Beata! Glad to hear that your holiday has been manageable and as low-stress as it can be. Ours was too. We only had a dinner gathering with my bestfriend’s family on Christmas Eve for a couple of hours and then that was it. The most stressful (though not too much) was preparing/ cooking prior to that dinner. However, on Christmas Day I woke up with the flu and spent the next 3 days in bed, with my son and husband bonding and doing fun things without me. I was a bit sad, felt a bit left out, but at the same time grateful that the hubs gave me my much needed rest. New Year’s Eve tonight will also be just us, very quiet and relaxed.

    Well, here’s to a blessed AND healthy New Year for all of us!!!

    1. Thank you for sharing, Joy. I’m sorry to hear you got flu on Christmas Day, but I sincerely hope you are much better now. It seems like you celebrate Christmas Eve, too – at least you managed to squeeze that in before getting ill! I spent Christmas in bed with a chest infection two years ago and it was not fun, so I do feel for you…. Our New Year’s Eve is also going to be very low key, I’ll probably be off to bed very soon after midnight. I think it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everybody else’s Christmas or New Year celebrations are super-special and ours are insignificant; we can even start feeling guilty for not trying harder to have a good time… Well, we shouldn’t – I imagine most people’s Christmas is just ‘normal’, like yours or mine, although I hope that falling ill over Christmas does not happen on a regular basis!

      Thank you for your good wishes, Joy, and let’s hope the New Year will bring us all good health and happiness – whatever it is that makes us happy! 🙂

  4. Hey Beata,

    Firstly merry christmas and wishing you a happy new year!

    Our Christmas was stressful in the lead up, mostly due to the lack of money this year. But on Boxing day, when we celebrated with family, it was actually really lovely. We stayed at my sisters property – all of us – and it was just the break we all needed after a very full on year.

    Oh, and I finally got the Christmas tree up on Christmas eve (after saying we wouldn’t put it up this year). I wonder how long I will leave it up for!!!

    1. Hi Janine,

      I’m glad you had a lovely Boxing Day and a well deserved rest. Well done for putting up that Christmas tree! It’s always a bit of a hassle doing it in our house – first we need to make space in the living room, then get the tree, lights and decorations out of the boxes, put it all up and just a few weeks later the whole thing needs packing up again! I probably shouldn’t say that, but last year our tree went down in February, after my neighbour pointed out that people might think the house is left unoccupied… That’s what happens with artificial trees – no dropping needles, so no urgency to put them away!

      Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year!

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