Christmas, holiday season, family visits, in-law visits, too much food, too much spending, pressure to be perfect in everyone’s eyes. These are some of the stresses that we put ourselves through this time of year. Is there a way for you to take some of the stress out of all of this? Yes, there are lots of ways.
When I start feeling the stress, I remember my childhood Christmases. They all seemed perfect to me, but I am sure they were not – but they certainly were simpler. Maybe that’s what we need – simplicity.
I remember decorating the house with decorations that we made in school, or with mom. Paper chains, popcorn garland, paper snowflakes and angels, and tin foils chains made from the paper in my mom’s cigerette packages. We lived in the country and would go to cut our own tree and boughs to decorate the mantel place. We gathered pine cones and spray painted them with glue and rolled them in glitter. And come time to decorate the tree, it was filled with all the beautiful ornaments we had made mixed in with my grandmother’s antique ornaments. It was beautiful.
Santa would come. With 5 children and not a lot of money, Santa would bring us each one big gift, we received a toy or two from mom and dad and the rest of the gifts were clothes that we needed to start school in January, and a group gift such as a sled. The best gift that we got each year, and was always my favourite for some reason, was the new pair of flannel pajamas and a new house coat. I loved my flannel pjs. They were so soft and warm.
My mother and I would set the dinner table the night before, we would all read The Night Before Christmas, and then join the neighbours as we went around carolling up and down the street, stopping when we got too cold, or the adults got too tipsy at one of the neighbours for a couple of hours afterward. More partying, more games, and more excited children running around. We were in bed before ten, and when we woke up in the morning, the magic had arrived.
We opened our stockings which were filled with little treats, and an orange or apple whichever was your favourite, a few little toys, and of course a new toothbrush. While we were doing this, mom was stuffing the turkey and dad was making toast and coco for all of us before we could dive into the chocolate from the stocking. Dinner arrived around 1pm and was always delicious, but never perfect. There always seemed to be a glass of tomato juice spilled on the lace tablecloth, or missing cranberries that either weren’t brought home from the store, or were still sitting in the fridge. There were five kids and only two turkey legs, causing negotiations to be the order of the day. The gravy would burn or run out, and of course there was the cries of I don’t like pickles, I don’t like broccoli, I don’t like turnip, etc, etc. I loved Christmas dinner. It was the one meal of the year where you did not have to eat what was put in front of you whether you liked it or not, and we always got dessert.
Around 2:30 we would go to our cousins for the afternoon and sometimes stayed for turkey leftovers as the other 20 cousins arrived and we were shuttled into our winter clothes and shooed out doors so the adults could spend some time together. If a disagreement arose which was rare, some adult would address it and off we all went, friends again.
Simplicity, was the order of the day. Calmness on my mother’s part, understanding and forgiveness was the responsbility of everyone else. If you are finding the season too stressful, simplify, simplify, simplify. The world will not come to an end if the tomato juice is spilt durning dinner or the cranberries are forgotten. It will go on, and so will you.
Love & Light, and a happy holiday season to all of you. What are your Christmas memories from your childhood?