This weekend, with Halloween and Bonfire Night now (barely) tucked away, the Christmas ads began popping up over TV and I could feel a transformation beginning. My inner grinch has been awoken from its annual slumber and is ready to begin an 8 week stretch of Christmas related grumpiness.
And this year, I am going to embrace it rather than hide away and mutter in private. Because I think many people feel the same way and I’d like us to be able to mutter in solidarity.
The truth is, that whilst I love the spirit of the season - the cosy vibes, life lived by glittering fairy lights and lots of excuses for good food and magical adventures – the over commercialisation and focus on the more you spend equalling the “better” time you have, is a complete turn off.
My heart is not too small for Christmas – it has been too bruised by the impossible standards set by Hollywood and festive ads.
Here’s some of the reasons why I’m #teambahhumbug and some suggested antidotes to take the sting out of this most festive of seasons.
Focus on spend over connection – much like Valentine’s Day, the more you spend on someone the more you must love them according to the unwritten rules of Christmas, right?
Especially at the moment when there are increasing financial pressures battling with the shame and guilt over buying the perfect present for everyone you may bump into over the next 6 weeks.
Much of this burden is shouldered by women – not just the financial cost but also the choosing, shopping, wrapping and travelling round to deliver gifts too. Many of us fall into the primary caregiver role which, when you read the small print also seems to include gift buying duties.. Hhhmm, no thank you.
A grinch move this year could be to agree a secret Santa type gift exchange with your friends/family where everyone gets just one gift picked at random. I’m sure there will be a virtual collective sigh of relief round the WhatsApp group if you suggested it…
Next up – social grinching. Not everyone wants or can spend time with family. The Promise of picture-perfect family gatherings where everyone gets along; multi-generational family fun ensuing long into the afternoon before a collective snooze in front of the telly sets the standard for the big day. If that’s your experience – then all power to you and long may it last.
For many, however, there is the challenge and stress of where to spend Christmas - who is hosting this year, who’s cooking what, who's organising the gift lists for the kids and who’s fallen out with who since last year.
Many folks also have no one to spend this time of year with – perhaps by choice, chance or estrangement. I find the hyper fixation on the social aspect of this time of year suffocating in its heavy coat of FOMO – that if you are not at ALL the parties with ALL the magical, festive finger food and glittery cocktails, you have somehow failed at life.
A grinch move there would be to look ahead at your diary now and block out time that is just for you and the folks you really want to spend quality time with. Be discerning over what invites you accept; don’t be afraid to set boundaries and soft landing zones for post party hangovers.
And check in with the quiet folk, the people who have lost someone this year or who are just having a tough time. Don’t assume they’re lonely and must be in need of company but do let them know you are there if they need you.
Anyone for more comparison, judgment, guilt and shame? No, I didn't think so – and yet isn’t there just so much more if this time of year anyway? The Instagram posts of perfect trees; families in matching PJs and Christmas Eve cocoa; that one friend who goes skiing each Christmas and the one who goes all out on the cooking and table settings.
Whether it's the insta worthy decorations, the budget busting trips away or a mega big feast with all the trimmings, there is so much to both compare ourselves against and also judge others for.
Or perhaps you feel awful that you got the bumper pack of wrapping paper and cards that can’t be recycled; you’re using Amazon for ease even though you think they’re shady AF and really wanted to shop small or that you forgot to get something for a teacher/colleague/the bin men – it’s all ok.
Release the impossible ideals of perfectionism, give yourself a break from seeing the season as a collection of trendy check box activities and focus on what feels good, is within your capacity and is not going to leave you overwhelmed, out of pocket and drained of joy.
I will end my sermon here as otherwise I’ll be on about all the things I dislike about NYE and we’ll have truly killed the vibe.
In seriousness – if you are someone who struggles this time of year with either the overwhelm, the over indulgence or the feelings of being alone, please do take some time to think about what you want your December to look like and why it’s important to you so you can take some action now to bring intention to your wishes.
Remember, this time of year can also mean peaceful, restful, slow and it’s perfectly ok to want more of that for yourself.
If you think it would be useful to get some support on preparing yourself to survive the festive season with some healthy boundaries; ensuring you have some time and space for intentional rest and that you feel able to prioritise your own joy - why not book in for a 90 minute Practical Magic session with £44 off this November with code 4YRBIZBDAY.