A ponder about ‘Pondering’s’
I had to really think about today’s ponder – it needs to be Christmassy due to my self-imposed rules, but I am very conscious that rather than having a ‘ponder’ I have lately been having more of a rant, and that isn’t really the direction I want to go with this series. Us middle-aged ladies already have a bit of a rep for being a bit ‘confrontational’ and while I don’t sport one of those ‘I want to speak to the manager’ haircuts, I worry that these random ramblings are becoming miscellaneous moaning’s and that’s not the vibe I am going for. So today I am going to look at other people moaning instead!
First up, a little bit about me, we’ve been on this ‘ponder’ journey for a number of weeks now so I feel I should share something about myself. I am a mortgage account handler; I nose at your payslips, bank account and house and decide whether to pass you to an underwriter or not. At this time of year, things are a little slow. We relieve the boredom by creating quiz’s, reading the Daily Mail online (ironically, obviously) and asking random questions of everyone. Today’s question is up on the team board (names have been ‘candy caned to protect the ‘innocent’) and has inspired this ponder…
What are the worst bits about Christmas, and can we make them better?
The truth about christmas
The answers that were given were all different but can be roughly broken down into 3 sections, (not sure where sprouts fall in this discussion!) all of which have solutions if you are willing to break with tradition.
Enforced family time
December is often the one month of the year that we try and fit in visiting all of the family members we have successfully avoided for the rest of the year. This means a lot of running about, trying to organise convient times for everyone in what is generally the busiest time of the year. If you throw in excessive drinking into the mix, it can make for a stressful time…
Why are you stressing out trying to visit everyone? Here’s an idea, tell everyone you are staying home – for the entire holiday – and see if any of them offers to come to you instead. If it is no-one, maybe you should question why you are the one always making the effort and whether it is fair and you are willing to keep doing it. Remember that family are just people; you don’t have to like someone just because you happen to be related and do you actively hang out with people you don’t like?
If a family gathering is required , a neutral place makes for a great meet up. We often have a mass family get together at a church hall. There are crafts, food, presents for the kids, we can arrive and leave when we want and you get to see everyone in one go.
Realistically, a family Christmas is as stressful as you allow it to be; make a firm decision about how much you are willing to take on, make it clear to everyone else and stick to it.
This addition to the list was mine!
I can’t help it; once a sustainability student, always a sustainability student! Just the sheer amount of money being spent on temporary tat is enough to make me want to weep.
And don’t get me started on wrapping paper and cards! In fact I did a whole piece on having a sustainable Christmas last year where I rant about terrible presents and alternatives to wrapping gifts in paper.
We seem to feel obliged to buy into – pun entirely intended – the idea that Christmas is all about spending money we don’t necessarily have to create an Instagram illusion of perfection to impress others.
I have already chatted about this subject this Blogmas. About gift giving and budgets and keeping within your means. We all know what we should be doing, but… It’s Christmas!
Try and cut back where you can, on the bits no-one will notice, if you’re worried about impressions. Corner cutting is better than being cut off in the New Year because you can’t pay the leccy!
I haven’t wrapped any of the kids presents this year, they have a reusable box each. The presents I am wrapping up are going to other places, so will be put in gift bags – that can be reused, obviously! – or receiving an experimental treatment that I will be attempting on the vlog on Monday. Your prayers will be greatly appreciated!
Disruption to routine
As a general rule, life is fairly regimented. Get up, get ready, go to work, come home, do (insert whatever it is you have the energy for), have dinner, go to bed… Rinse, repeat, with possibly a little bit of weekend variation. This in and of itself is a terrible state of affairs and something I will be talking about in the new year, but routine is reassuring; you know where you are and Christmas can throw all of that into disarray.
It is especially notable if you have young children, or are not particularly fond of visitors or fuss. Trying to get small people to bed when they have been mainlining candy canes, or settling gran after she has downed a whole bottle of port and eaten half a wheel of Stilton can be very… Well trying. So what do you do?
Planning – military, pedantic, verging on the ridiculous planning… While also being a bit flexible.
Choose your battles – if the kids have a set bedtime routine try and keep aspects of it so as not to totally disorient them, but be aware that if they do go to bed one night having not had a story, or wearing their clothes and not their pyjamas it is not the end of the world. If you know Uncle Fred is going to kick off after a few drinks, cut off his supply or intersperse the booze with soft drinks.
Try and mitigate for the inevitable, while being willing to let slide those things you can do nothing about. It will all be over soon and you can get back on with your life…
What annoys you most about Christmas? What can you do to avoid it, or to at least lessen its effect?
Let me know in the comments.