Well, the news is good: after all the trials of the past year, Christmas is definitely on and oh my, we’re so ready for it! As if a switch has suddenly been flicked, sleigh bells are a-jingling, reindeer are nursing red noses and nights promise to be silent and holy. And that’s the way we all know it’s Christmas.
Except, is it fair to say that it’s all got a bit much in recent years — less a case of goodwill to all men, more shopping lists and stress, giant piles of presents and bills? Christmas Day itself can often be reduced to a frenzy of present-opening and turkey-timing that culminates by teatime in tears from an over-stimulated child. Whether we choose to believe the origins of Christmas or not, it can be a day that commemorates the birth of a baby, and any baby’s arrival is a wonderful event, not flamboyant but meaningful, certainly not designed to wind up a child like a spinning top.
If Lockdown has taught us anything, it is that life can shrink back a bit and we still have more than enough, that family and friends are what’s really valuable, along with acts of kindness big (NHS staff) and small (looking out for those vulnerable in our community). Somehow, I can’t help thinking that the very top gift this year is families being together and that that’s more exciting than any number of wrapped toys pushed under a tree. Maybe this is the year when presents can take a back seat and goodness knows that fits with many of us having less cash to spare at present. Of course, for lots of people, going large with gifts seems just as right, an exuberance that celebrates a break from hard times and if that’s your vibe, then why not?
But there is no law that says Christmas celebrations can’t change if they’re actually causing us anxiety. It’s ok to, and this year it seems right to, shake things up a bit and not tick everything on an ambitious checklist of what entails Christmas. The Danes seem to hit it right with their simple cosy pleasures of hygge which perfectly suits a peaceful Christmas (https://www.countryliving.com/life/travel/a46178/how-to-make-your-christmas-more-hygge/), and this year, the benefits of instilling some calm around Christmas are huge. Calm allows us an opportunity to savour everyone’s company and to absorb the happy mood of this very special post-Lockdown time. And exhausted, small children on December 25th just might thank us for it.
Seven ways to introduce a bit of calm at Christmas!
Add white fairy lights everywhere to create a warm glow. Children are wide-eyed and soothed when faced with a twinkle!
Introduce new smells – lavender, bergamot, sweet basil and valerian essential oils added to a diffuser individually can cosy up the mood and relieve symptoms of anxiety.
Mix up the order of things over Christmas time. Don’t feel guilty about the family watching a Christmas film in the middle of the day or not sticking to strict time schedules.
Select a Christmas story and settle down the whole family while you read a chapter each day.
Pay attention to yourself if you are running the show. Unwind by putting Epsom salts in your bath — the magnesium will help tight muscles relax.
Make time for family walks, in nature if possible, and take a flask of hot chocolate with you.
Shift the emphasis for children away from receiving presents at Christmas to giving by helping them sort out no longer wanted toys to give to a charity, by asking them in a supermarket to select a food item to donate to a food bank collection point, by helping them make cards to give to seniors in your local area.
However you celebrate this year, have a very Happy Christmas! We all deserve it!