Peace, Joy and Goodwill to all….
Or….. present buying:
‘oh flip I didn’t get anything for Aunty Mabel and she has bought for me and all the kids’,
seriously, how many mince pies are one family going to eat, no-one really likes Brussels anyway and ‘HOW MUCH’ at the checkout.
Or it can be:
‘who am I going to spend Christmas with, someone will be upset’
‘they are not speaking to them and they can’t stand to be in the same room as someone else’
‘the kids should be with me not them’
‘I have to sit all by myself at home with no-one.’
Of course, there are those of us who work all Christmas or are up early sorting the shopping sales out because we clearly haven’t bought enough already!
Either way Christmas can be one of those times we feel we should be jolly like good old Santa and actually feel stressed, anxious and thankful that it only comes once a year, all be it for nearly three months of the year with the build-up.
If you are like me, Christmas can be an emotional time, for all sorts of reasons. I have found myself blubbing at numerous Christmas adverts in the past and not because they are necessarily tear jerkers (I have manged to cry at a Christmas supermarket food ad!). The reason I cry is because I end up in overwhelm at everything I believe is expected of me and how I am not capable of providing the ‘perfect’ Christmas. This can be financially and from a perfect family picture perspective of mum, dad, two children and the dog.
At Christmas I am flung onto a hedonic treadmill of constant buying in order to provide happiness to myself and those around me. And I am generally not like this for the rest of the year. It’s almost like some weird urge to purchase people ‘stuff’ they probably don’t want or need overcomes me and also, I might add, to purchase ‘stuff’ for myself that I think will improve my own experience of Christmas. Most who have been caught in this trap will realise that once we have the ‘thing’ we think will provide happiness or be the perfect gift we are quickly looking for the next and then the next and so on and so forth continuously adapting to the happiness and going back to how we felt prior to our purchase.
So, to overcome this overwhelm this year and to get out of causing myself financial misery I have decided to forget the perfect Christmas. There is no such thing. I have been honest with my kids and told them what I would rather do. I would rather save a bit of money, so we can do things together, creating memories, not more landfill with unwanted gifts. I am trying to pass this message onto family too who struggle to understand why kids wouldn’t want anything. My reasoning is simple and comes from my own experience although there is research which shows this too.
Memories and experiences are going to be with them and me a lot longer than a new plastic toy. I remember toasting marshmallows over my nans fire and her awesome leek and potato soup! I remember putting the decorations on the tree which we had made at school. I remember getting to see family whom we may not have seen most of the year. And in my 36 years of Christmas do you know the only toy I can really remember well and remember playing with is a wooden kitchen!
This is all about giving experiences to others and this doesn’t have to cost either. Making a memory with someone can be about giving them your time instead. The anticipation of the experience can bring us joy as well as the memory of the experience afterwards. This type of happiness can last longer than the joy of being given something material. Make sure the experience is something both of you or the group would want to share. This way the experience will mean something to each person there. This also gets us off that buying for buying’s sake roundabout that is synonymous with the festive season.
So, my plea to everyone, this year is….
Please don’t buy me a gift. Or buy one for the kids. Give me your time. Give them your time. I would love to see you face to face if possible and chat to you. Facetime is fine for those who live far away. Let me know what you have been up to all year and your dreams for the next. Let’s arrange a get together like we had in the summer. Let’s just have a cuppa and mince pie round mine. Or come share a bottle of wine with me. Your time and the memories of that time are much more important to me than anything else.
Tell me, what would you like for Christmas?