Christmas time is around the corner.
Isn’t it amazing that one day can be the cause of so much stress & emotion & joy all at once?!
I was thinking about ‘categories’ of people during this time…
- Those who have nobody to share it with
- Those who have too many to share it with
- People who are struggling financially
- People who who overly spoil their kids
- Someone grieving the loss of a loved one
- Someone else welcoming a new family member
- Those who have to work & miss out on the celebrations
- Those who wish they didn’t have to celebrate
I could go on & on. But what I noticed is that no matter which ‘category’ you fit into (and it may be many), there is always someone else experiencing the opposite.
So how can we be mindful of others while taking care of ourselves too?
Before you go shopping for anyone, write a list.
I love lists! But I don’t mean your standard crappy list, I mean a concise list that gives you a very clear idea of what you are looking for & the budget you have for that person.
I like to write at least three things I can look for. Because if I can’t find the first thing, I can move to the next one. And if I have found one thing but have room in my budget for something else, I can add something from one of the other options.
If the worst case scenario happens & you can’t find any of the three items you’ve written down, they will at least give you an idea of the sorts of things that person may like & you could find something that is similar in that category.
Here's an example...
Will (Age 12 $40)
-Demon Slayer books 10 & up
Sadie (Age 3 $30)
-Light up shoes
-Arts & craft set
-Favourite colour pink
Lyndal (Age 42 $80)
-New house with pool
-Mum of 2
For Will in the example above, if I can’t find Pokémon cards, I at least know he likes Pokémon so maybe a folder for his cards would be a good idea instead. For Sadie, I might find her light up shoes as her main gift but have some money left over in the budget. So adding something arty that is pink would probably be an easy addition.
For Lyndal, I’ve written down characteristics for her as I wasn’t sure of an exact gift she wanted. These categories helped me narrow down things to find while I was out instead of wandering around for ages at the shops, I had already done the brainstorming at home. This would work particularly well for K.K gifts, someone you don’t know as well or one of those people who you know well but seems to have everything.
This will save a lot more time & money when shopping & make your life a billion times easier.
Pre-Organise Christmas Day
Christmas Day can be a huge headache when you are trying to fit in multiple family visits. But it’s so important to also make sure your own immediate family gets to have their traditions & special times too.
My sister & I found that this year it was a great idea to talk to each other first about what time of day we could both meet & where & THEN called mum & dad to let them know when we were all available. This meant our parents didn’t have to chase up who was doing what & limited the amount of back & forth phone calls.
With my husbands family, we know now that we usually always have Christmas dinner so that made it easier to schedule in the rest of the day.
If you have a large family or need to visit more than one or two groups of people, It’s also really important to think about whether it’s necessary to do it all on Christmas Day. Is it fair on the kids or yourselves if you’re stressed & rushing all day?! Perhaps doing Christmas Eve or Boxing Day is necessary for at least one of the groups you are visiting so that it’s a more pleasant time for everyone.
While rushing around like a headless chook, you’re also probably thinking about how crazy all of this spending is & hoping your kids grow up to remember those who don’t have as much or those going without this Christmas.
But you may also not be in a position to financially do much about it. Which is why I love organisations like St Vincent de Paul who create hampers & other things to give to those in need.
Each year in preparation for Christmas, we ask our kids to go through their belongings & see if there is anything they think they could part with so that another little person can enjoy it. It’s a small way of learning to sacrifice something for someone else & also think about making another child happy too.
Most of us have experienced a loss of someone we love. And in the rush of Christmas you may be worried you’ll forget to acknowledge them or may not know how to.
A small but powerful tradition to start is to light a candle for each of them at your Christmas lunch or dinner.
Making an area at your table where you can display a picture & light a candle, saying their name, to remember your loved one can be very healing for some & brings that person (or people) to the celebration with you all.
Be the calm
One way you can make a difference to your own well-being & also that of others is to “be the calm”.
Having worked in retail & hospitality myself, I know that this time of year is crazy busy & also a time when people tend to cop a lot of abuse from impatient & stressed people.
It can literally be as simple as ‘reading the queue’ & allowing the huffing & puffing, stressed out lady behind you go before you. Or having a friendly chat with the person serving you. And the biggest one is when you can see that the person serving you is having trouble with something, (whether it’s a computer error or having just dealt with a nasty customer), be patient & kind & offer a word of support. You might be the one that makes their day.
My final thought is one that I often need to remind myself too. When you’re a busy parent, it’s very easy to keep rushing by & not really allow your kids to bask in the excitement of the lead up to Christmas.
It’s easier to keep walking past Santa at the shops, to tell them to be quiet instead of letting them belt out Jingle Bells for the millionth time or to focus so much on your to-do list that you don’t make time to do something in the lead up to Christmas like making Christmas treats or doing a craft. It might be nicer & more aesthetically pleasing to have a perfectly decorated tree but it’s not as nice as seeing them proudly decorate it themselves.
Let them be kids. Let them enjoy it. Because in the blink of an eye, they will be where we are now, reading blog posts like this one about how to learn to enjoy it again.