Why I’m doing Christmas differently this year
This is it. That moment when you know you’re about to sit down to write something you’ve been ruminating over for weeks, conceptualising over quiet lunches. I make myself a cup of coffee in preparation. But this time, I add a dash of cinnamon. This coffee has big responsibilities, this coffee needs to give me the confidence to tell you something a little unnerving, as we head into the festive season. I want to do Christmas differently this year.
My ghost of Christmas past
Last year, this time, I was exhausted. I mean physically so spent, I had lost any remaining willpower to get excited about Christmas. To even give a fig about what it all meant and why we do it. It was nothing but a tinsel covered marathon to me, with many, many ‘tick off-able’ hurdles. Get lights. Put up tree. Buy stuff. Wrap stuff. Speed cook. Check veggie sides for parent. Unwrap stuff hours later.
I faked every moment. Wore the hats, ate the trifle and wrote endless streams of gift idea articles — while deep down inside I was… uninspired and disengaged by it all. Aching to retreat into a little coastal cottage in Paternoster, I longed for a place where no one would find me and force last minute presents and turkey on me. My friends called me ‘Christmas Grinch’. Even my own mother.
And if that’s what I honestly was I would be happy to wear that badge — a festive season miser who looked down at all this jostling frivolity. But, truthfully, the little girl inside me was sitting on her bed, in her pretty lace dress, on the verge of tears. What happened to making gingerbread houses and biscuit baking Sundays with friends? Making garlands and giving away roasted nuts? That simple, restful Christmas Eve dinner where mom always made her hasselback potatoes and nobody was late for lighting the last candles because they were still undergoing frenzied fights with the sticky tape dispenser…
I had deprived that little girl of her absolute favourite time of year. All because I had grown up and gotten myself entangled in a web of ‘busy’.
My ghost of Christmas present
The redeeming marvel of every new calendar year is, that with each one, we get the chance to work on being a better version of ourselves. Sure, I was balking at what Christmas had become — a glorified commercial clutter fest (think Black Friday sales and shudder). But just because that’s the manifestation I saw all around me, doesn’t mean I have to contribute to it? Can I not make it one of kindness, generosity, magical detail, considered practices and thoughtful, meaningful gifts — on top of what it means on a religious level?
And after all that, would going through the motions with intentional planning make me believe in it all again?
My ghost of Christmas future
I’m well aware of how hard it is to remain light of heart and wilful towards our best hopes with the pressures of a working life bearing down on us. Part of my role as the editor entails shaping the type of content we share with you. This year, instead of endless gifting listicles, I’m embarking on a more personal journey, one of peering behind the fabric of the traditions we’ve adopted, almost unquestioningly. Why do we bake gingerbread? Is there more to mistletoe than a smooch under the archway? Can an advent calendar mean more than just a daily sugar high?
How can we add more meaning to each of these traditions, gifting up the full experience of Christmas, instead of just points on a shopping list?
By intentionally practicing and maybe modifying some traditions, (many of which begin in the kitchen) I hope to uncover new layers of purpose to it all, new reasons to connect around a table. Maybe somewhere along the line, I’ll make my way back to that kid sulking on the bed, rediscovering why she so loved this time of year.
I promise nothing but honesty, awkward insight and some creative, festive inspiration on this journey, and – if you’ve ever felt completely overwhelmed by the lead up to Christmas, I really do hope you stick around to see if it’s possible to shed these musty grinch coats. Mine’s getting kind of heavy.
Share your stories and experiences along the way and enjoy this slightly different take on the festive season we’re embarking on.