Happy Christmas Eve! Are you feeling festive? Dare I ask if you are all ready for Christmas Day? You have clocked that it is tomorrow, right?!
I feel like a bit of a fraud writing my annual Splodz Blogz Christmas message this year (written because one year I decided that if the Queen and Prime Minister could have one, so could I), because I’m afraid to say I haven’t put my Christmas tree up. And I don’t intend to.
I could share a bunch of reasons or excuses. But they all come down to one very important fact. I just don’t want to put it up. I don’t want to spend the time and energy on it – now, or after Christmas when it all has to go away again. It’s not the first time I’ve not bothered with one; I’ve got a decent fake tree and some lovely green and silver themed decorations to put on it, but some years I’m just not in the mood.
The more the years go by, the more I wonder why we keep plastic trees in the loft to bring out for a week or two, or, depending on your preference, cut down and bring in a dying tree instead. It is weird when you think about it.
No Tree Does Not Equal Anti-Christmas
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love a Christmas tree, with the lights and baubles and the rest. But I decided – we decided – the lounge would be fake-foliage-free this year.
But that doesn’t mean I’m anti-Christmas. Or anti-trees. I’m a big fan – of both.
I’ve got twinkly lights adorning my front porch, my Christmas jumper has been worn (and I considered buying a second one – have you seen this rip-off The North Face one from AC Designs? I kind of love it!), and I’ve had Christmas music playing at full volume. I’ve also spent time at local Christmas markets, enjoyed the displays at Cotswold Farm Park’s Enchanted Light Trail (see Weekly Blog Episode 91), and have made my way through a bunch of classic Christmas movies, including but not limited to, Home Alone, The Holiday, and Muppets Christmas Carol.
As if these things prove whether someone is feeling festive or not.
One Less Thing
So why no tree? Surely that’s just part of getting into the Christmas spirit? And, as an outdoors lover, surely I’m desperate to bring a bit of the outside inside at this time of year?
Apart from not having the energy for it, I guess not having the tree is my way of removing just one thing from the Christmas preparations from my life.
It’s inevitable, we all do it. We rush through December like the proverbial headless chicken, hunting out the perfect this or the most Christmassy that. We spend four, six, even eight weeks planning, researching, buying, wrapping, writing, posting, visiting, preparing. All for one day, or maybe two or three days, worth of over-planned happiness.
And yes, I am well aware that the Christian calendar practically dictates that we must spend time preparing for Christmas – that is what Advent is for after all. But I am pretty certain that no vicar will preach about the need for stress and strain to get it all done from their pulpit on Christmas morning.
I mean, here are some of the (non-Covid-test-related) worries I’ve seen people tweet about in the last week or so… all true.
- Will Amazon be delivering on Christmas Eve?
- Can I ban any conversations relating to politics from my house on Christmas day?
- Is one jar of cranberry sauce enough for six people coming for Christmas dinner?
- Should Yorkshire puddings be served with turkey?
- Is it okay to cook roast potatoes for vegetarians with beef dripping?
- Does not having a Christmas-themed tablecloth ruin the aesthetic?
- What day is the bin man coming?
- How many presents are other people buying for their children?
You may or may not be nodding at some of these, or think the answers are obvious. I’m sure you will have seen other examples of things you think sums up the ridiculousness of Christmas stress for you.
What Really Matters
While I appreciate that making Christmas special is incredibly important to a lot of people, and I don’t have anything against you if you have worries associated with that, I do have to use my little corner of the internet to remind you that the stuff associated with celebrating Christmas “properly” doesn’t matter all that much. Not really.
We all know what really matters at this time of year. Especially this year, when we are fast approaching two full years of living through a pandemic, and one in 50 of us will be isolating due to a positive Covid-test. You know this, it’s old news; preparing for Christmas isn’t about decorations, cards, presents, themed tablecloths, or making sure you have everyone’s favourite drink. It’s not about sprouts or bread sauce or even cheese. And it’s most definitely not about whether all the plates match.
Time, love, and inner joy. That’s it. They’re the Christmas trio we should be concentrating on. Actually, forget Christmas, it’s the life-trio we should be concentrating on.
Yes, some Christmas traditions might help us spend time with our families, might help us show our love to others, and might help us feel that all important joy inside. This post isn’t meant to dismiss or belittle any of your favourite Christmassy things. But a lot of the stuff just gets in the way of what really matters.
Growing My Own Christmas Tree
I recently read that you can now rent potted Christmas trees, which sounds like a lovely eco-friendly option. There’s a local-to-me company a friend told me about – Primrose Vale specialises in pot grown trees available to buy or rent, which sounds like an excellent idea for those who like a real tree in their lounge at Christmas.
Or, if you’re not sure about having a tree inside at all, like me, you could grow your own outside. I have a fir tree (of some kind) growing in a pot by my front door, which at some point might be big enough to call a Christmas tree. It started off very small; a garden centre Father Christmas gave it to my nephew two or three years ago and it ended up coming home with me. I’ve managed to keep it alive, so far.
I did put lights on it at the start of December, but they’ve since broken so it just looks like any other baby fir tree. I think, right after publishing this post, I’m going to go outside and bring those lights in (yes, the broken ones are still on the tree), to see if I can fix them. Maybe that means I do have a Christmas tree after all this year. Perhaps celebrating trees outside in my garden and in the countryside is my new Christmas tradition.
I hope that whatever you are doing over the Christmas period, however festive you are feeling, whether you’ve gone all in with the decorations or haven’t had a single mince pie yet, that you will find time for the truly important things. Time, love and inner joy come to us thanks to the smallest of decisions, the quickest of conversations, and the simplest of traditions.
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.
May you find time, love and inner joy this Christmas-time, whether you have a Christmas Tree up or not.