For many of us, this Christmas will be a time of mixed emotions, particularly after the last few years we’ve all had, which has brought a change in a multitude of ways.
To each of us, Christmas has its own special personal and somewhat essential must-haves to make it just ‘perfect’, which usually is steeped in our family traditions.
Are you from a family that has a Christmas Eve box? Do you open one present on Christmas Eve? Christmas morning for my family just wouldn’t be the same without bagels with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and occasionally, a cheeky glass of something bubbly! For others, it might be the hanging of a stocking on Christmas Eve. As a young child, we each had a pillowcase put at the end of our bed that miraculously was filled with wonders of all kinds when we awoke in the morning, usually very early in a frenzy of childhood excitement!
This year sees a return of many traditional Christmas highlights, such as Christmas Pantos, markets, much-longed-for Arts performances such as The English National Ballet with a performance of The Nutcracker. On the flip side, some companies have decided, based on the vibe of their employees that the infamous Christmas office parties may be a ‘Nonstarter’ and be at risk this year. Many feel “why take risks”? So, it’s possible it could be for many another zoom party (which isn’t all bad, at least you can save your feet and wear your slippers behind the camera)!
Although at this point no government restrictions have been suggested, there is the prospect of facemasks becoming mandatory again. However, even with the possibility of coronavirus cases rising this winter the feeling is that due to our vaccination program, we as a country are better equipped to manage it.
I dare to go there and say that maybe no amount of magic, goodwill, or prayer can make everything ‘perfect’, making all our Christmas dreams and wishes come true, no matter where you are on Santa’s good/naughty list!
There is talk of shortages and empty shelves not only of ‘this year must have toy’ but of essential food items to make your Christmas dinner complete. But, is this a bad thing? It may be time to switch up your traditional Christmas a little bit and try some traditions from other cultures or some alternatives.
But what if what we have always known, just can’t be?
Much of Christmas is made up of expectations, and whilst we’d all agree for the majority of us, we have been affected in one way or another by Covid- 19, those expectations may be hard to live up to this year. The human story behind many households won’t just be the financial implications but the emotional & mental battles to face. With the possibility of multiple job losses in one household, pay cuts, zero contract hours, closing of businesses and for some the effects of ill health due to long covid, it will undoubtedly cause stress and tension. Money may be in short supply along with patience & tolerance, relationships will be tested. As we have mentioned, Christmas is made up of expectations, so for your own wellbeing lower those expectations this year. If you are one of the households that have been affected by Covid-19 and are facing financial hardship, why not suggest that you and your family do one huge secret Santa with a set budget? That way everyone gets a present they really want and you don’t need to break the bank with the pressure of buying for everyone (pets included – yes we see you!). Rather than buying a new Christmas ornament for the house, why don’t you and the kids make one? This keeps the kids busy and makes for a fun, bonding activity!
Christmas is a very emotional time, memories of the past, with empty seats at the Christmas table a reminder of friends and family that are no longer with us. Many of us will have had personal experience or knowledge of others who have experienced bereavement over the last few years. Changes in our family dynamics will play a part in how we will meet Christmas head-on.
Just how willing are we to adapt and embrace the new and the different? I believe, as we have always done historically, we will rally! Amongst and despite the grief, hardship, and to some extent fear, we will go forward and make the best of what lays before us. It’s what we do best, we ‘make do and mend’, ‘scrimp and save’ and get on with it, not necessarily without a good moan though!
New memories will be made, laughter will be heard again, and tears will be shed. We will ‘dig deep’, love, compassion, friendship, and family will get us through. So much good and kind have been evident of the last few years, people fundraising, food banks, people across the country sharing what they have with neighbours, family, and strangers. People’s acts of kindness seem to be limitless and what better time to let that shine. Surprise yourself with your resilience, enjoy and acknowledge what we do have.