The holidays can be so much pressure. Weeks of pressure, in fact, with the lead-in to the big day itself.
Pre-Covid, there would have been so many parties and friend reunions to attend. So many presents to think about, and then buy, and then wrap, and then deliver.
And so much fun we were all supposed to be having.
To say nothing of the cheerful atmosphere we were all supposed to experience on Christmas Day, surrounded by a loving family who all get along famously. With lots of hugs and laughter, and no rows.
Who lives in a Utopia where all of this is easy, and falls into place without any effort?
We have so much to validly moan about the year we have just been through. And feeling robbed of our usual happy holiday season is the icing on a pretty yucky cake.
But while it may all suck for some of us, there is no shortage of people who have a miserable time at this time of year, every year.
For some people, not having parties to attend, or family dinners to survive, or gifts to exchange, is not a “new normal”. Maybe this year, those folks won’t feel so left out.
And maybe those of us with formerly busy calendars can better appreciate our previous "normal". Maybe we can think about how to include others more next year.
Meanwhile, instead of endless parties and other holiday stress, this year we’ll have more time to decompress.
We may see fewer people, and have a less exciting time. But that gives us the opportunity to spend more quality time nurturing relationships with those nearest. And more quality time to spend on our own self care.
Consider the effects of all the usual partying on your liver, your purse and your energy levels in general. And now consider how much better all of these things will be following a quieter Covid Christmas.
None of this is to deny that the whole situation sucks.
It does suck. Especially for those who will end up spending the holidays alone for the first time,and without a choice in the matter.
If that is going to be your situation, then I recommend turning all ideas of what should be done on Christmas Day on their head. Instead, it might help to reframe our ideas about this holiday and think along the lines of a self care retreat.
Line up a list of favourite indulgences that you can pick and choose from throughout the day, depending on what you’re in the mood for.
That can include a meal that you love, that is simple to prepare. Spare yourself all the time and stress of cooking a traditional holiday dinner for when you can share that with loved ones.
If you’re on your own, minimise the work and maximise the pleasure. If ordering in is an option, I would go for that.
Sleep in late, because you can wash and dress and eat according to your own timeline, rather than a schedule to accommodate a larger group.
Have your favourite tipple to hand, and enjoy it to enjoy it, rather than to calm your nerves that might be on edge if you were surrounded by loved ones. Because no matter how much we love them, when we’re all thrown together for the holidays, tensions invariably arise.
Check in with those loved ones by phone or video call. And afterwards enjoy the peace and watch your movies of preference without rows over the remote control.
I have done Christmas Day alone before, and how we feel about that comes from how we think about it.
Other people might project notions of sadness and loneliness onto this concept, but we don’t have to buy into that. And if we don’t buy into it, we don’t have to experience it.
When it’s not a matter of choice, and not a matter of habit, spending a holiday alone is likely to feel somewhat sad or lonely for sure.
But we can minimise that by choosing to view it from a different perspective. And maybe even eliminate those feelings, and experience the day as a joyful, peaceful and much needed day of restoration.
I hope this will be possible for you. Whether you’re alone or with loved ones, I wish you a day of nourishment for your body, mind and soul.