How has your December been? Something of a blur? Even more stressful than last year? It seems to be a tradition that we should hit Christmas Day with a sigh of relief and a slightly stressed out demeanor. The list (lists) of things we want to do before the big day has been longer than ever, there are countless things we promised ourselves and others we’d definitely do this side of the New Year that we haven’t started, and we’re feeling a little bit, well, frazzled. Our tired turned into overtired turned into exhausted.
I’m no different. My life seems to be a collection of slightly odd years containing even odder experiences. The day job is busier than it’s ever been, I said yes to far too many weekend activities, my blogging has taken a back seat to trying to catch up on sleep, and my family and friends are feeling the stresses of life and I don’t feel like I can support them properly.
It’s inevitable. We all do it. We rush through December as though everything depends on having the right cranberry sauce. We stress over whether or not to serve Yorkshire Puddings with the Christmas Dinner or not (do you?!). We worry about having enough chairs or plates or how sticky the floor is after making the buttercream. We rush around the shops bumping into people, getting more and more frustrated at the surly shop assistants or families taking up the full width of the pavement as they dawdle along. And then there is the added pressure of making sure we buy wrapping paper that can actually be recycled, or realising too late you should have used string instead of sticky tape because you want to be environmentally thoughtful. We get frustrated at the conversation topics, falling out with people over politics and other things, and snarl at those who thought to make charity donations instead of sending Christmas cards because we either can’t afford it or we just like sending cards. We compare our lives to those who describe theirs in great detail in their Christmas letters, and worry that our plans for the Christmas break don’t sound as fun as anyone else’s. And we arrive at the Church carol service at the absolute last-minute on Christmas Eve, struggling to give the real meaning of Christmas the time it deserves. You may or may not be nodding at some of these – but there will be other things that sum up the last couple of weeks for you, I’m sure.
But it’s okay. It doesn’t matter. Not really. Not at all. At Christmas, today, this week, none of those things are important. You know this, it’s old news… Christmas isn’t about decorations, cards, presents, chores or being up to date. It certainly isn’t about having enough gravy or noticing a dirty patch on the window ledge halfway through dinner. And it is never about how good the photos look on Instagram, or whether you post them at all. Life isn’t about those things. It’s about love and kindness and being a good soul. Thankfully those things are much easier to fit in. And they involve a lot less stress.
I am now off work for a week. I am looking forward to some time with family, having some good home cooked food (and not all by me), doing some chores (actually looking forward to chores…), having plenty of time outside enjoying the fresh air, making some plans for the coming year, and taking a little time to myself. This weird week between Christmas and New Year is such an important week in my year, it’s an opportunity to catch up with my own thoughts, put my life in order, and recharge the batteries.
I hope that whatever you are doing over the Christmas period, however frazzled you are, however you celebrate and whoever you are spending time with, whether you are switching off and having a break or whether you are still online and/or working, that you will find time for the important things.
And if it all gets a bit too much, please take a moment – in your living room or on top of a hill somewhere – for some deep breaths and calming thoughts, to remember what Christmas and life is supposed to be about; being a good person, loving one another, and making time for the people, places and things that matter most to you.