This is your annual reminder to make time for yourself over Christmas.
It is a great time of year (for many, not for everyone) to see friends and family, buy thoughtful gifts, decorate your house top to toe in tinsel or greenery: wrap, post, socialise, and eat, eat, eat.
It is a great time to stretch yourself to breaking and end up exhausted.
If you can, plan some days that are empty. Or some hours. Or some minutes. Force yourself to sit down. Or go to sleep. Or breathe.
It is OK to not have a wonderful time every moment of every day over Christmas. It is OK if your children do not have a wonderful time every moment of their school holiday. You get to be a person too.
tinylife will return on 12th January.
You do not need permission –
if you feel you need permission, you have mine:
to write expensive Christmas cards and buy stamps
to not write any Christmas cards
to get drunk every day over the festive period
to not drink at all
to eat yourself silly
to take it easy and eat fruit every day.
To change your mind.
To spend your time with family and friends
to spend time with your family of choice
to cry when children sing ‘Away in a Manger’
to think it’s lame when children sing ‘Away in a Manger.’
To wake up at 5am to write
to wake at 5am and watch crap TV
to be silent
to have a magical Christmas
to have a rotten season
to look after yourself because you are precious:
know that you are.
Christmas anxiety. A wash of feelings, pulling and pushing in opposite directions. I’m a sociable person, I love my friends. Now it’s December and I’m all ‘hopefully we can catch up before Christmas?’
I invite, or accept invitations, with joy, and then approach the days themselves with dread. Will I spend hours on my return, mulling over a throwaway comment I made, seeking malevolence in words that were not meant to hurt? Deliberately sabotaging my own friendships, and my own fragile resilience?
So last year, I stopped saying ‘let’s meet up before Christmas’ and started saying ‘have a lovely Christmas! See you next year.’
To anyone reading this who feels anxious around Christmas, I just want to say: you don’t have to see anyone, if you don’t feel like it. Look after yourself, OK? And I’ll see you next year.
Tiny lovely things about Christmas
The Christmas Tree ornaments you’d forgotten about.
Chipolata sausages wrapped in fiddly bacon.
Falling asleep in daylight hours.
The Snowman, The Bear and The Gruffalo.
Stocking fillers (but only after you have bought and wrapped them.)
Pine needles in March.
The children trying to avoid the mistletoe at all costs.
Mulled Wine and that mulled wine juice from IKEA.
Transforming a pile of ‘things’ (gifts) into a much more pleasing pile of wrapped presents.
Christmas Songs on the radio.
Any 9 Lessons and Carols in any format.
The sense of achievement when you find the Santa Hats.
Edwin Morgan’s Poem ‘Trio.’
Carols for Choirs 1,2 and 3.
Driving home for Christmas, with ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ at full volume in the car.
And the little bits of paper on the floor, after a session of cutting out snowflakes.
‘We need to start thinking about Christmas.’
It is the 22nd of October, but I nod. The September weekend (the middle of September) used to be our starter’s pistol, guaranteeing a December of smugly saying ‘We’re pretty much done.’
But that was BC, and we all know what BC stands for – Before Children.
I’m not even ready for Hallowe’en, but, hey! we need to start thinking about Christmas. It’s a full on free fall between now and December 25th –
all rolled in tinsel, wrapped in snowman paper. The idea of fitting in thoughtful gift buying, alongside these extras, and maintaining the tinylife, AND keeping school uniforms clean, in twenty-five December days … that’s why we start in October.
Now it is December. The kids are wound to a tight Christmas sprig.
Just don’t ask me if I’m feeling smug yet.
‘Lets clean the house for Christmas! Where shall we start?’
The littlest says, ‘the money isn’t very clean.’
She empties her piggy bank over the kitchen table. Out tumbles a mountain of coppers. Soon a small bowl appears. It is filled with tuppenny pieces.
‘Can I have some vinegar?’
‘Hmm, I need rubber gloves.’
‘Do you have an old toothbrush?’
‘I think I need some salt.’
Her sister joins her. The number of bowls grows. The scheme goes from small to grandiose and spreads over the entire table.
I go out. Come back in.
The house smells like a bad chippy. It is overpowering.
‘Can I show you the incident?’ She asks.
Vinegar ran down the table, down the chair legs to puddle on the floor.
‘Well I say, there we are, all clean and ready for Christmas. Thank you.’