Down to earth at (family) Christmas
I once had a much-loved aunt (Peg to anyone who knows my family), who used to get discouraged with the onset of Christmas preparations. Faced with the prospect of card-buying and sending, present buying, food preparation and general hustle and bustle, she used to make an annual announcement about the end of November: ‘I’m going to become a Jehovah’s Witness - they don’t celebrate Christmas!’
If we had tried to remind her on Christmas Eve when she sat down to relish ‘Carols at Kings’ that she didn’t like Christmas, we would have been ‘shushed’ with great vehemence. Good will to all men – and women – could be in short supply if we interrupted that annual ritual!
Christmas can be a festival of parts which is both enjoyed and endured by at different times in our lives – even parts of the same Christmas. Sometimes we miss lost family members. Loneliness bites particularly hard for people who have been bereaved during the previous year and for those for whom a sense of isolation is an everyday experience. Time to think can be an unmixed blessing! Tensions in couples and families that have simmered throughout the year may boil up as people have to spend extended time together. Exhausted from the preparations and cooped up cheek by jowl, people can be forced to reflect on the real nature of the bonds that hold them together. Good will to all people can be found to be in short supply!
One or two people have already been sharing with me their ‘mantras’ ahead of family Christmases. Things like, ‘I don’t need to win every argument’ or ‘I will try to be as present as possible’. My own mantra is ‘don’t expect too much - of yourself or other people!’
Good will to all men – and women – is sometimes as hard to practise in our family as in anyone else’s. But over the years we’ve discovered one or two secrets of a stress-free-as-possible family Christmas – usually by not following these suggestions!
Health warning – If your family has got happy Christmas perfection down to a fine art, don’t bother reading any further!
Pearsons’ ten secrets of surviving, even often enjoying (fancy that!) a good family Christmas.
Keep in touch beforehand so that everyone knows how everyone else is! If people are exhausted, don’t try to do too much.
Make giving and sharing central to Christmas. Be aware of the efforts that people are making. Share the preparation and clearing up.
Don’t be afraid to ask for – and accept (equally important for some of us!) - help if you need it.
Doing various preparations can bring special opportunities for being together. Kitchen chats over brussel sprout preparation or potato peeling are a case in point!
Plan ways to include gently in your family Christmas someone less fortunate.
Guard against overconsumption - it just makes you irritable! Especially watch your sugar intake!
Get some good walks!
Let people to ‘do their own thing’ as long as it doesn’t upset others – you don’t have to do everything together!
Learn to ‘go with the flow’!
And maybe the most important...
10. If it all goes pear-shaped, don’t give up! Keep talking to each other! There is life after Christmas. That is why Jesus came!
We wish all our friends and readers a merry Christmas.
We hope that this blog might prompt others of you to share your ways of enjoying and surviving Christmas!