I flipping love Christmas. A time of peace and goodwill to all men . Sounds dreamy doesn’t it? The ‘goodwill’ part is absolutely one of my favourite things about this time of year. It’s a bit like that short period of time at the start of the lockdown, can you remember? When strangers smiled at each other in the street, and we checked in on our neighbours with regularity. Oh I love December. I love saying “Merry Christmas” to randoms on the street, delivering Christmas Cake to my elderly neighbours, seeing everyone dressed in their finery and telling them how fabulous they look. Any bad feeling or long-held resentment is forgotten; if we could harness the power of that goodwill the world would be a much better place for the other eleven months of the year wouldn’t it?
But can we just examine the first part of the phrase. You know the bit about ‘peace’: Where the fuck has the ‘peace’ bit gone please!? I cannot think of another part of the year which contains any less peace than frigging December. Even a cold, rainy October (in Tier 3 where everything is shut) is more peaceful than the lead up to Christmas. Hell, homeschooling in May was more peaceful.
You see, in addition to the mountain of all-year-round admin duties which are involved when it comes to running a family … Christmas throws in a whole other tranch of tasks.
I’m actually pretty excited that this year will be a more streamlined festive period. I’m gutted that I won’t see the three year old in his nursery nativity (the last one I would ever have attended. Sniff sniff.), but I have to say I’m relieved that there’ll be so much less to coordinate this year. No nativity costumes to make at 1am the night before the dress rehearsal for me – THANK FUCK.
I have heard rumours that the schools are still planning on holding Christmas parties, but joyfully we will not have to remember an outfit change. There’s a strong chance we’ll still have to take in a plate of party food, wrapped in cellophane. There will of course first be a strongly worded letter from the head teacher stating plates must not contain any nuts or recreational drugs.
There will undoubtedly still be Christmas Jumper Days. At my work and at the boys school. But obviously not on the same day as that would be too easy. And of course there will still be the complex social niceties used to navigate the teachers gifts debacle… should you put into the class collection? Actually, is it your turn to actually manage the class collection? Or do you buy personal gifts instead? Or should you do both? And have you definitely got all of the members of staff..? We don’t want a repeat of last year when you bought gifts for no less than seven staff members, but forgot to take in a bottle of wine for the teacher who covers French every second Tuesday of the month. (Still haven’t been forgiven by my middle son for that.)
The worst thing about all this is that so much of our Christmas stress is self inflicted. We have collectively stolen that peace from ourselves. We have given ourselves an insanely long list of #makingmemories instagrammable shite that we feel we just have to do.
We have replaced our festive peace with elves on bastard shelves, Christmas Eve boxes (for fucks sake), tea-parties with Santa (which completely balls up the story we drum into kids that Santa only leaves the North Pole on Christmas Eve) and visits to Winter Wonderland which we have to take out second mortgages to pay for. Thank goodness this year those latter options will probably be unavailable to us! Pressure off eh!?
Think about your memories from Christmas as a kid. I bet not one of them involves Lapland or a ‘once in a lifetime gingerbread-making with Mrs Claus experience’. Most likely you remember going to an an-dram pantomime, meeting Santa outside Woolworths in your local precinct, finding the presents your Mum had hidden in the cupboard under the stairs. No frills, no fuss, no huge expense. But those memories still give you all the warm nostalgic feels don’t they?
Now I’m not griefing you and claiming to be immune from all the aforementioned festive lunacy. I’m as likely as the next parent to fall victim to it… I don’t do the elf on the shelf though. Or the Christmas Eve box. Cos you know; I’m not mad. Neither am I some kind of Grinch; I absolutely love Christmas… I’m just not so keen on the sky-high stress levels which often accompany it.
Anyway I’m making it my mission from now on. Peace is going to be as high on the agenda as goodwill this year. I’m going to benefit from the enforced simplicity of Christmas 2020. I’m allowing myself to breathe. And if that means my kids are the only ones wearing school uniform for Christmas Jumper day cos I’m just so goddam chilled…then I’m sure Santa will forgive me, even if the kids don’t.
***You can catch Sarah over on Instagram @pearlsofkiddom or on Facebook. Sarah runs the website www.thegoodthingisthough.co.uk which is packed full of hope, positivity and happy news stories to help you escape the chaos of day to day life.