Christmas is brilliant! But it can be hard work. Here are my top five tips for surviving Christmas!
Don’t get sucked in by the adverts
We all love a John Lewis or M&S advert, and although we like to think we are immune to their hard-hitting subliminal messages, we’re not. Get that thought ‘But just think of their little faces when we pull out the puppy’ out of your head! We don’t need to spend masses at Christmas to have a good time and if the kids (or whoever you are buying for) aren’t bowled over by your gift – that’s okay.
Top tip number 1 is don’t go overboard on the pressies.
Create your own traditions
Whether you are a joining up with friends or having a big family do, whether you are down at the homeless shelter serving dinner or having a quiet one at home, it’s great to create traditions to help us get in the festive mood. As a child my mum used to take me to the midnight Christmas eve service at the local church with a couple of neighbours. It was exciting to stay up late and go out at night time and I loved the quiet of the church service.
One tradition we have is on Christmas Eve. We have a gift laid out in the front room (usually shiny new pj’s!) with a tub of sweets. The kids open them up, pop them on and then we all settle down to a Christmassy movie. A tradition we’ll start this year is a post-Christmas lunch walk with our new doggy friend. Think about including people you know will be alone, so that they can join in with your church service/movie/walk.
Top tip number 2 is make Christmas special in your own way and invite others in.
Draw your own boundaries
Now this is a tricky one, but as we all know families are not always straight forward. It’s important that we don’t take on more than we can cope with whether that is entertaining people or visiting family or friends. No-one really wants to finish the festive season more wiped out than they started, right?
Sometimes people can put their own expectations or pressure on us to do things that simply make Christmas exhausting. We have to take responsibility for our own choices here and although that might mean choosing to disappoint a family member or friend, we might just have to do that.
Top tip number 3 is don’t take on more than you can handle.
Don’t pour the whole bottle of brandy on the pud
This is a top tip for ensuring you don’t ruin a perfectly good Christmas pudding! In all seriousness, laying off the alcohol is not a bad idea, especially if you are engaging with some delicate family relationships. For some reason, all the social norms go out of the window for Christmas and not only are we eating chocolate for breakfast but many of us, for whom drinking is a post 7pm activity, feel like we’ll be fine starting on the sherry at 11:30 in the morning. Alcohol can often be the culprit when things ‘all go a bit wrong’.
Top tip number 4 is watch that booze!
Don’t forget the baby!
This isn’t a reminder to buy a gift for the littlest member of the family, but a reminder to not forget that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. There is something so beautiful (and counter-cultural) about the stillness of a prayer of thanksgiving in the midst of a season taken over by advertisers. And there is nothing quite like a Carol service to usher in Christmas. So take some time in the busyness to reflect on the unexplainable – God coming to earth to tell us he loves us in the shape of a baby. Along with the Christmas party and the shopping trip, check out your local church Christmas services and put it in the diary.
Top tip number 5 is make space at Christmas for Jesus.