Is Christmas Really the Happiest Time of the Year?
I love Christmas! Mostly for the fact that it means a rest from the daily grind, a chance to have at least one day eating what I want, and best of all, spending it with people I love.
That said, Christmas is a lot of very hard work. I always start my Christmas shopping while on holiday in Greece during the summer. I love looking for trinkets and olive oil goodies which I know my friends will love as much as I do.
But I am rarely able to keep up with my own planning schedule, and when I start to panic, everything goes downhill. My problem is, I can’t live up to my own very high standards. I envy those people who really are organised, because no matter how hard I try, it never works out for me.
While I love to write little notes in Christmas cards, by the time I reach 50, I’ve had enough. Since my method of writing cards is to go through my address book – alphabetically of course – if your surname begins with W, you aren’t going to get a very long note!
One friend creates a typed letter which she then sends to everyone, but I prefer to do a personal note rather than a photocopied one.
Your Place or Mine?
There’s always the problem of where to go for Christmas Day. That isn’t much of a problem for me right now because I have only my husband and daughter, but things may change in the future.
My daughter has been seeing her boyfriend for three years, so there will probably come a time where she will alternate between parents, and I’m dreading that. Am I being selfish – she is an only child and her boyfriend is one of three?
Fortunately, we also have a wonderful circle of friends and are often invited over during the holiday season. On occasion, we too have hosted our own very large lunches.
Still, there’s nothing better than closing the door on Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass, and knowing we can put on our new festive pyjamas and watch a shmaltzy film – usually National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Elf is reserved for the day we put up the tree.
The one good thing about the holidays though is seeing your elderly parents, aunts, uncles etc. who spend much of the year on their own (why?). It may be the high point of their year when they get to spend time with the younger members of the family.
I would give anything to have my own Mum and Dad back – how I would spoil them now! They passed away when I had just started work, so I never got to buy them proper gifts, though I’m sure they appreciated what little I could afford in those days.
Some of you are so generous, inviting elderly strangers without relatives into your home for Christmas – it takes special people to do that, and I believe it’s something I should do, too.
Food, Glorious Food!
And then there’s the food! Mountains of it! Why do we buy so much to eat for just one day – or two if you’re in the UK and count Boxing Day?
My freezer is already stocked up, and we are actually going to friends for Christmas Day this year! Still, we buy Christmas cake and mince pies “in case someone drops by” – when we don’t even like them!
The Down Side
However, the holiday season isn’t all fun and games for everyone. Sadly, the divorce rate rises steeply after Christmas – obviously the last straw for some couples.
It can be a very stressful time. The bulk of the catering and organising is usually, though not always, done by us women, and coping with family members we don’t even like can see tempers flare. This is particularly true if there’s alcohol involved, which there usually is at Christmas.
The down side for me comes when receiving gifts that I don’t need, which, unfortunately, make me grumpy and ungrateful. These include ornaments, slippers, make up bags or chocolates (I love them but I am still desperately trying to shift the baby weight after 27 years!)
My friends and I have a rule: If we buy gifts, they should be something we can use and throw away. That includes anti-wrinkle cream which one generous friend gives me every year, and I love her for it!
My daughter gives me a list of things every year and tells me I don’t have to buy everything, but please not to buy things that are not on it as ‘stocking fillers.’ I ignored that request until her teens when unfortunately, if it wasn’t on her list, it went straight to the charity shop two days later.
I hope we don’t sound ungrateful – we certainly appreciate the thought which goes into buying a gift. Yet I would much rather buy something I know you wanted or would use, rather than something which will go into a cupboard until a decent time has gone by so you can donate it.
If all else fails, I would prefer someone made a donation to a charity in my name, and then I know it’s going to a good home.
A New Beginning
During my corporate working days, I loved to go into the office the day after Boxing Day. It was a time to sort out the filing, clear out old papers, sort out my plans for the coming months and generally get ready for a new year with a clear head and desk.
Now that I no longer go into an office every day, I look forward to taking down the tree and giving the house a good clean – how sad is that?
After all that, however, I am still looking forward to Christmas this year. To be honest though, I will be glad when it’s all over, too!
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and joyous New Year.
What are you doing for Christmas this year? What do you love and hate about Christmas? What is your perfect gift – to give or receive? Please share in the comments below!