Don’t let Christmas stress you out

Everyone has memories of childhood Christmases don’t they? The fun, the food, the chocolate, the presents – no school, it’s magical.

My immediate family was your typical family set up, mum, dad and two kids but at Christmas we always celebrated with my extended family. My Dad’s brother’s and their families. This peaked at 17 people all at my parent’s house one year, it must have been about 1991 or 1992. What do I remember all these year’s later? My mum being really stressed and shouting a fair bit. There was a lot of food to cook and prepare, a house to clean and my mum’s job meant you couldn’t take anytime off between mid-Dec mid-Jan otherwise you’d lose your bonus, so she was working right up to Christmas Eve.

Christmas shouldn’t be about stress and it’s funny how that one year just sticks in my mind because it made me think differently. Traditions are great but sometimes we outgrow them and it’s time to make new ones. Like celebrating with fewer people this year and knowing that keeping things smaller is the best way for now. I don’t want family members that are on their own to be lonely but we won’t be travelling around to see my large extended family this year. It’s more important for me to keep them safe and our family safe. We’ve always used online video calls to contact family members that we can’t be with on Christmas Day and this year will be no different.

Christmas isn’t really a time to stress about having matching PJs and the perfect Christmas table. Although it is part of the fun when you’re kids are old enough to notice it. When I really think about it, I enjoyed spending time with my mum and dad when they weren’t working over Christmas, the mince pies and watching the Christmas specials on TV. Not rushing around to get to school or piano lessons, everything just slowed down.

Going to midnight mass and coming home to hot chocolate and a minced pie – wasn’t something we did every year, which made it extra special. My boys haven’t been raised into any religion but this is something I’d like to share with them when they are older. Singing the carols, staying up late and hearing the nativity story in Luke’s gospel, is a stark contrast to all the toys, lights and shininess of Christmas. It grounds you into the real meaning of Christmas. Let’s remember that and try not to stress about the rest of it.

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