December is always busier than I realise, I get lulled into a false sense of security the shops start selling Christmas goods in September so I learn to ignore them until suddenly its the second week of December and Christmas cards drop through the letterbox which gives me a sense of alarm as I have not written any yet!
I do enjoy Christmas it gives a tremendous focus for creativity, not just present making but decorating the house and cooking special food. It has taken me a number of years though to get the balance right. When I was first married with a young baby, I would try to create the ‘perfect Christmas’ which often left me worn out, stressed and not great fun to be around. I would put so much pressure on myself, mostly fuelled by the magazine articles of ‘create the perfect Christmas’ or ‘The best Christmas dinner menu’ or ‘wonderful party food’ that I somehow lost all the fun.
Now I put on my filters remembering that Christmas is just one day and it is all about having fun with those you love and care about. I plan a menu of what we are going to eat, not because I want it to be the best turkey ever, but it means that I don’t overbuy, in turn meaning I don’t over eat. I have lost count of the number of times I have filled my trolley with Christmas essentials, nuts, chocolate, fruit, cakes etc, so that my home is a constant buffet. I eat chocolate thoughtlessly, fruit very often turns because I have overbought, and I don’t enjoy the lovely meal because I am full of chocolate!
I learnt to let go a little, the children got far more pleasure out of decorating the Christmas tree than I did with my careful arrangement, sometimes it was a case of balancing it up a little when they were asleep but I began to take pleasure in subverting the ‘Christmas perfection’. It was revolutionary not to be perfect; less stressful and a whole lot more fun.
I am far more competitive than I realise, but the competing that is going on is not against anyone else it is against this ‘illusion’ that is created by magazines usually in August! The competitiveness is from my desire to reach that ideal, re-create the perfection for my family, and it begins to sound rather like a nasty critical taskmaster in my head, pointing out the faults in my home crafted imperfections against glossy illusion. I have taken part in a magazine shoot and seen behind the glossy images, now when I look at the stunning home ‘set’ I look for the practicalities, yes it may look beautiful but you cannot live that way.
This taskmaster voice that suggests everything should be ‘home made’ so that I have very little energy to enjoy visits of friends and family. Now I just decide what is more important? To impress someone because it is made from scratch, or simply to relax and enjoy their company.
I found the same was true for the rest of the year, I used to hide the cake that sunk in the middle, or the biscuits that had gone a little too ‘caramelised’ but now I laugh with my friends about these things; it helps to shatter the perfection illusion and allows them too to be imperfect. I think that is the greatest gift of all.