I’ve always loved Christmas time. The decorations that make me feel festive. The delicious food. Presents. Festive music and movies. Going on leave and returning after the New Year starts. I love it all.
Yet a few years ago I also found this time of year a bit stressful. I felt like hubby and I were running around with an endless to-do list trying to get everything done in time. Saying no is difficult for me at times and I remember feeling exhausted by the time my December leave arrived.
A while ago I felt like giving back and asked some relatives to donate to a charity instead of giving us gifts. The charity had a list of what was needed and I offered to save family time and do the shopping myself, then drop it off at a collection point. So I had presents to buy and then the shopping for the donations to do, dropping off the gifts at family members and getting the donations in on time, get-togethers to attend (and baking and prepping for these), trying to fit everyone into a busy schedule and I decided enough was enough.
As an aside, can I just ask what is up with people always expecting others to drop off gifts before Christmas? Does everyone retire their cars around the festive season? Just asking because this irritates me immensely.
And then there are the pre-Christmas gatherings. I remember one year running around to the shops and doing hours of baking. The starters cost a lot to put together as did buying the cheeses. I was hot and bothered from baking in the middle of summer and then transporting everything to the person hosting the dinner took time.
So now if anyone wants to do a pre-Christmas get together I’ll see you in a restaurant. Thanks in advance. It costs so much less and I save time by not swearing at our oven.
And that is something that mystifies me with this time of year. The frenzied planning of seeing everyone you’ve spoken to in the last 10 years and sitting down and having a catch up.
I’m becoming a lot more of an introvert as I get older. I’m finding I enjoy spending time with close friends one on one. Meeting for a coffee and catching up is preferable to meeting in a group and trying to fit in months of news over a dinner in a busy restaurant where everyone else has the same idea.
I thought it was just me being grumpy but I’ve asked around and a lot of people get annoyed with the “we HAVE to meet up before Christmas” mentality.
So I’ve simplified things this again year. And I’m pretty impressed if I do say so myself.
– Limited gift giving to family and friends. Hence I only have 2 more presents to buy.
– Donating directly to the charities of our choice. If I have time I’ll buy some things on a wishlist but if time is running out I often do a direct donation.
– I say no to get togethers I simply don’t have time for.
– I refuse to feel guilty when some people expect others to run after them for Christmas. I watched my mother do this thankless task for too long and vowed I’d never be the person that hosts Christmas or does all the cooking and gets minimal thanks. So grateful that our anniversary is close to Christmas and we celebrate both – just the two of us. Drop hints all you want – we are NOT available for Christmas.
– Drop off gifts long before necessary and say “see you in the new year”. I’ve already done this with a friend and we are both happy. I’ve got one coffee catch up with another and she is getting her gift then.
– Getting the shopping done nice and early. A couple of friends have birthdays in December so I add their gift shopping with my Christmas list.
– Plan ahead. I’ve got our favourite gammon recipe printed and ready. A list of what we bought for last Christmas’s lunch and the crackers were bought on Sunday.
I love Christmas done our way which is relaxed, fun and full of food and laughter. Stress is overrated all year round but especially at Christmas! What about you? What tips do you use to keep stress levels down this time of year?