7 Ways to bravely reclaim Christmas
1.No more People Pleasing. Be brave and reclaim Christmas as your own. It’s lovely to make other people happy but not at the expense of your emotional wellbeing. If pleasing others cripples you financially you’re on a hiding to nothing but anxiety and stress-related illness somewhere down the line. Showering your toddlers with an entire cuddly toy department or your teens with every new techno gadget out this year is not going to make you a better parent. Taking the brunt of the cooking is not going to make your family love you more. Driving the length and breadth of the country in order to visit every relative in hierarchical order of importance will not get you gold stars. There will be someone, somewhere at some point who will take offence. No matter how hard you’ve tried or how much you’ve spent. Take it easy. Visualize what would make you happy at Christmas and start with that. Which doesn’t include Catastrophizing.
2.Catastrophizing. When you find yourself imagining in August Cataclysmic Christmas Crises in a family remake of Apocalypse Now, you know you need to get a grip. Present buying for instance. How much ‘stuff’ do we actually need? How about going for experiences? My partner and his family bought his 90 yr old Grandma a hot air balloon ride one Christmas. She loved it. There’s only so many lavender bags and talcum powder an old lady can use. Another year we shot an exercise video ‘Wrinkly Workout’ starring Grandma as Rocky, as a present for the whole family. She’s no longer with us but her video is on Youtube, forever more.
3.Procrastination. I used to work in a woman’s boutique and on Christmas Eve it was amusing to see boyfriends and husbands running in wild eyed, darting from rail to rail desperately seeking something. Anything. Fear was palpable. It’s got to be right, whatever IT is. Of course they’ve procrastinated out of fear of getting it wrong. But 4pm on Christmas Eve, you’re cutting it fine. Of course we’d step in to help. They’d develop Tourette’s as they stuttered through their panic “Anything white, she likes white, I think. Or did she say, anything as long as it’s not white?” “Candle! Can’t go wrong with a candle. Or did I give that to her last year? Did I come in here last Christmas, can you remember what I got her?” That sort of thing. Give yourself time to think about the person you’re buying for. So you can avoid blunders. Last minute decisions can be disastrous. Practical is rarely good. One friend’s husband gave her a de-humidifier. Another friend received anti-cellulite cream from her mother-in-law…
4.Compare and Despair. When everyone’s gone to bed and you’re frozen in sheer exhaustion on the sofa with a faintly mad look in your eye, as you sit amongst the debris of disguarded wrapping paper, empty chocolate boxes, a mountain of washing up, and you switch on the TV only to see the movie classic White Christmas playing with all its crooning, smiles and nostalgia, turn it off. Remember Movies aren’t Real. Probably the only person able to provide the perfect Tinseltown Christmas is the Queen because she lives in a palace and has diamonds and servants. She doesn’t have to do it all herself. And neither do you. Declare your household a communist enclave where all is equal including the present buying, wrapping, cooking and clearing up.
5.Breaking bad beliefs. How many times have you blown your budget because you’ve gone overboard in Asda on Turkey and literally ‘all the trimmings’. Or find yourself ‘doing Christmas’ for the tenth year in a row because you believe that you personally are responsible for keeping the entire family happy even though you have a two up two down and you’re working full-time until the day before and you’re still paying off the debts from last year’s bloat-fest. One friend actually broke a shopping trolley not just her bank account in her desperate attempt to purchase enough provisions for the feeding of the five thousand. Break the belief that the world will end if you strip-down the festivities to what your emotional and financial constraints can withstand.
6.Get Creative. With so many fractured and re-integrated families you could do what we do and make your Ex-mas a fancy dress theme. So far we’ve had Mex-mas (Mexican), Tex-Mas (Cowboys) and SFX-mas (science fiction). This year is to be Brex-mas. (We love Europe & I may come as a Eurovision Song Contestant). Because our extended family now resembles the legs of an octopus, we can’t possibly fit everyone in on The Day. So we have Ex-mas Day a week before. Changing the date for the big day lowers skyscraper expectations. We relax, we have fun, we take it in turns to host it year on year. Christmas is what you want it to be, not just a date in the calendar. Some people go help Charities by giving Christmas dinner to the Homeless. Some escape the entire thing by heading to the hills/Barbados/Isle of White/Timbuktu. Some invite in waifs and strays. One year we invited a guy who ran our local chocolate shop, to join us as he was going to be on his own. As my partner, my ex and myself struggled with the turkey (it was the first time we’d hosted Christmas) Chocolate Man stepped in, announced we had it upside down, told us that he’d been trained as a chef at the Ritz and asked if we’d like him to take over. Invite in random people, you never know what they might bring to the table.
7.Healthy Habits. In Denmark they love a tradition. And they are reputedly one of the happiest nations in the world. Tradition plays a big part in that happiness. As a child my best friend had a Danish mother so I witnessed tradition at the coalface. In the weeks leading up to the 24th I joined in with the making of paper decorations. White and red woven strips that we turned into hearts and hung on the tree. We helped make little (Danish) pastries and treats. My friend and her siblings received little gifts each day throughout December, and on Christmas Eve they danced around the Christmas tree emblazoned with real candles, had their main pressies and gave thanks. As much as we Brits are attempting to embrace all things Hygge, we don’t have to take on the full Danish Christmas, elf like dances and all, but we can start our own traditions. Why not dream up your own healthy huggy Hygge habits? Be Brave and create a fantastic fearless festive season this year and for every year to come.
Lou is an artist, author, filmmaker & creative life coach. Her gift book of inspirational illustrations ‘Brave New Girl- How to be Fearless’ is published by Orion Spring and is in all major bookshops and available on Amazon
BNG will be at W4 Love Books Chiswick for her Book Signing Event on Tuesday 13th. Doors open at 7pm
10% off Lou’s Life Coaching Package if you sign up before December 31st for a Brave New You in 2017 Code: BNGXMAS
Lou’s One Woman Show of Paintings “Freeze Frame” opens in January at The Farm Post-Production Facilities in Soho London. If you would like to be on the Guest List for the Launch Party please email: Lou@createlab.co.uk
This painting “Arctic Plain” 3ft x 3ft is to be exhibited at The Discerner Magazine Christmas Exhibition at their HQ in Mayfair from 7th December. Please CONTACT Celine for details