The holidays, whatever and however you celebrate, are overwhelming for most. The gifts, the shopping, online orders coming in late/wrong/not at all. Trying to get days off that mean you get some kind of holiday. Working out who, when, where and how to see everyone on your gift list. The food, how much/little how long to cook and defrost. We try to be more eco friendly, try to watch our waste and somehow still end up with bins piled high and our heads hung low as we slump into exhaustion.
Add in to that some seasonal sadness, depression, PTSD, bulimia, anorexia, binge eating/drinking, alcoholism, bipolar … The list could keep going. Once you add these to the mix it all just gets that bit trickier. You suddenly find yourself drowning in excuses, unsolicited advice and backhanded comments that do not help you through a particularly triggering time.
How on earth do we make all of this that little bit easier?
SET YOUR BOUNDARIES
Once I had the little one I very quickly learned that setting boundaries to protect our family was important. It’s something we all need to do a little more. It’s your holiday too, so spend it in a way that makes you happy and with those who make you feel safe. For me this was saying no to doing festive rounds, no to a split Christmas, no to pretty much anything that made me anxious. So we spend Christmas in our house, in our PJ’s and just go with the flow. If people want to visit that’s fine but we ask they let us know a time so we can adjust any meals around that. This didn’t sit well the first year, expectations were high and everyone wanted a piece of babies first Christmas, but I stuck to my guns and three years on I can now say it’s a pretty relaxed day. Christmas is to spend with those that fill you with happiness, they don’t have to be related to you, so long as they have a space in your heart. Just remember to reach out to those friends who might be alone or grieving this year. They need your help most.
DON’T FOOT THE BILL
If you decide to host the big day then do it as simply as you can. Ask guests to bring things. It is not rude to ask someone to bring part of the meal you are cooking, preparing and serving for them. If they have a favourite side they bring it. Susan wants duck instead of cauliflower steaks she brings it. And let them know it’s BYOB, they get their favourite drink, you don’t break the bank in the booze isle. Alternatively, you just don’t do gifts if you host … You’ll be amazed to see that most people are happy to take a shot of running the show after that decision. And most importantly consider portion control. Sounds boring I know but the last thing you want to do is watch as half the table leaves a pile of food that ends up in the waste thanks to eyes bigger than the belly syndrome.
SMALL AND SIMPLE
Over the years I can honestly I remember a handful of gifts. And all of those are small simple things that probably cost buttons next to the bigger things. As a child I remembered the moments and as an adult I remember the look on people’s faces when they get something they didn’t realise they wanted. GIFTS DO NOT HAVE TO COST THE EARTH! Top note is to listen to people. Take note of what they say through the year, remember the little things and the milestones and celebrate those at Christmas. If you are crafty make something, have kids? Get them to make something. Failing that find an independent business that can help you. Your friend likes coffee? Get a nice bag of coffee. Loves long baths get a few or make some bath bombs. Favourite colour orange? Find some cool little orangy things that will fill their hearts with joy. Scrapbook, print a picture and frame it, make a “voucher book” of things you can do for a person. Like bake a cake, tell a joke, shoulder to cry on, movie date. Or even hold a family secret santa!Don’t create debt for one day of the year. In our house we do birthdays a little bigger to celebrate that person but Christmas is a token gift and sharing the love with all.
Work/girls/guys/random night out, secret santa, Christmas jumper day, bake sale, pantomime, forced festivities. You don’t feel like doing it then don’t. There is no rule that means you have to say yes. If it’s not something you would do any other time of the year, then you are under no obligation to do it now because it’s December. Put yourself first and look after yourself. Those who care will understand. Also you are allowed to say no to a festive tipple. Don’t let anyone force you with the chants of “oh but it’s Christmas” same with food. Make sure you feel safe and have someone you can turn to when you feel pressured. You eat and drink what you like and ignore the comments of is that all you’re having/ don’t you think you’ve got enough on your plate /one more won’t hurt … My plate, my cup, my business! Try not overindulge with lcohol, food, TV, social media ect. So you can avoid negative emotions, interference with medication or feeling overwhelmed.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Make sure to check in with yourself more regularly. It’s easy to get swept up in all the lights, glitter and expectations. Just make sure to have a you day. To be gentle when you need down time and to get rest when you can. You don’t have to do everything Christmasy in these 30 days! It’ll come around before you know it next year and you can tick off some things then too. Take some time to look after you. Step back if you have to, go a walk, take a nap, sit in a quiet spot for a moment, listen music or read. Do what it takes to let you find your breath. Find your safe space or safe person this season. Listen to your body and don’t over stretch yourself. There’s enough chaos that naturally occurs in the world without adding to it.
So remember this year that what you gift, what you get and what you spend isn’t what the holidays are about. You don’t have to gift to every person you ever met, you don’t have to gift to anyone. Gift to who you want to, who you can and what you can, even if it’s just a small charity donation in memory of a lost loved one. Your mental health, family, friends and pets are more important than the biggest fad this year. Sometimes the best gift you can have if the roof over your head and the money in your meters, and that’s okay. Your time and presence means more than things.
So don’t strech beyond your means or funds this year and make your holiday one you are excited to remember.
Love and hugs,