Christmas Eve

Our Somewhat Wonky Christmas Tree!

Our Somewhat Wonky Christmas Tree!

Hello everyone. I hope you are all having a peaceful, joyful, non-stressful Christmas experience so far.

Christmas has become so commercialized, with too many people just spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need. This isn’t a rant, honest! For years, we didn’t really “do” Christmas. Well, we kept the traditions we liked, and shed parts we didn’t.

When the boys were younger…I think ds1 was about 12, so the younger ones would have been 9 and 6…it got to the stage where having “Santa” come to our house on Christmas Eve and leave presents on the bottom of their beds became too difficult. It was the oldest who used to get so excited that he couldn’t sleep, and I was having to stay up later every year to get the presents delivered to their rooms so I could go to bed. That year that ds1 was about 12, I said to him that if he couldn’t get to sleep then Santa would just leave his gifts downstairs by the fireplace instead. And that’s what happened.

Afterwards, I rehashed Christmas entirely. Santa no longer came to the house. I broke it to them that Santa wasn’t real (they didn’t seem too surprised!) and that we were going to celebrate by giving each other gifts. From that year on, Santa was persona non grata and we called it Yule! We started having our main dinner on the Solstice, the 21st, I no longer sent Christmas cards, we kept the tradition of the tree and lights and explored other pagan roots of the season. For a few years, we went wassailing around the garden, leaving donations of bread and apple juice for future fertility. The boys made a huge effort to give each other numerous small gifts so that the base of the tree was loaded with fun stuff to open, and we didn’t miss Santa at all.

Gradually, we settled into a tradition that felt right for us. A small family gathering (because all of our extended family are on the other side of the Atlantic), a big vegan dinner, gifts with a reasonable budget. Baking which might include fruit cake, gingerbread cookies, mince pies. A couple of years running, we delivered gingerbread cookies to the neighbours…that was lovely. And of course a real tree.

As the boys have grown, things have changed slightly. Ds1 is now 22 and living with room-mates. We work around his festivities with friends. Tai Chi Man has only certain days off over Christmas and New Year. And now I have work hours too – I worked on the Solstice and will also be working New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

This year, the plan is to actually have our big dinner on Christmas Day and give gifts then. (When Tai Chi Man and I first met, I adopted the Swiss way of giving gifts on Christmas Eve. Then it became the Solstice. Now it’s any time that works for everyone.)

Now I am flexible. Have you noticed that the less rigid you are about something, the less stress you have? It’s taken me a long time to realize that I have less control than I think, and that trying to control everything invariably leads to stress. Best to relax and go with the flow. If that means having Christmas dinner on a different day, then so be it. I think the important thing is to enjoy being with family and be grateful for the abundance of good food. This year, of course, Tai Chi Man is thousands of miles away – his mum’s funeral was Monday and he will be spending Christmas with his dad and two brothers. My plan is to have a second Christmas when he gets back.

The fewer attachments we have to the outcome of things, the easier it is to accept what happens.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, however you choose to celebrate it (or not), and a healthy, happy, peaceful and joyful New Year.

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