Inspired by a particularly riling twitter thread the other day, I have been pondering the concept of sharing, guilt, and whether it is a learnt behaviour. In particular, I wanted to look at how we were taught as children to share, and how this, in turn, impacts what we then teach our own children.
So is ‘sharing caring’, or does the lesson come with a cost?
I broke a three year streak on Monday; for the first time since January 2016, I did not put a Vlog out on my YouTube channel. What’s more is that it was intentional. I almost caved Monday night, and was tempted to just put a short one up – a ‘Polly Filler’ if you will, but I stayed strong. Sometimes you have to break things, to correct them. Like a leg sometimes needs to be re-broken to set it straight, this streak needed to be broken so I could step back and look at where I am going. But where am I going? And do I really want to go there? Is change good, and if so, why do we fear t?
Following a chat in work about baby names, and what we might have been called had we been a different sex, I have been pondering names. Having investigated the subject as part of a ‘personal identity’ module at University, it amazes me that people are so unthinking in their choices when naming children, particularly in light of studies that cite the psychological impacts of the wrong name.
I am currently in the process of learning Japanese; it appeared on my 40 x 40and is still there on the Kettle List. One thing that amazes me about other languages are all of the words they have that we don’t, in terms of meaning. For example…
Today’s Pondering is a bit late as I have not had a lunchtime – my customary Ponder writing time – as I have been sat in a waiting room at hospital, so have had to wait until I got home so I could write this piece. As this is the last Ponder before Christmas, I thought I would pick a nice topic and have decided to write about the best things about Christmas and why the best things, aren’t necessarily things.
What people said…
Following our unscientific poll, we discovered that people like the following things about the season:
Lights & Decorations:
Lot’s of people cited the decorations and lights as one of their favourite aspects of Christmas. Many often took their kids on a walk-about to look at neighbouring houses, or went to lighting ceremonies. Even near me, a lot more people seem to be putting lights up in their windows and gardens. I always wonder why this is the only acceptable time of year to light up the outside of your property. Indoors is a different story.
I blame You-Tubers myself, but I have noted a year round proliferation of fairy lights invading homes over the last few years. I am certainly not complaining – I LOVE fairy lights, I have cleared the shelves at Poundland! I have ones that look like bells, stars, hearts…and because they are not overly Christmassy, I have an excuse to keep them up all year. I also make a point of making my tree decorations, by and large, generic and nonseasonal, so I can have them around the house; it is why I love hearts as decor, it means I don’t have to pack everything away at then end of Christmas. Of course, an alternative is to have decorations that are edible, which solves storage problems…
This was obviously going to make an appearance! We love all of the goodies! The mince pies and puddings, the pigs-in-blankets, the huge dinner and weeks of left over turkey. Some loved the excuse to indulge without judgement – ‘Go on! Have another; It’s Christmas!’
I have often wondered though why we reserve certain foods to once a year. If you really enjoy a food why not have it more often than just in December – or maybe it is the scarcity – that makes it a favourite? Sprouts can stick to their once a year appearance though – no-one likes you sprouts!
Presents – Giving and Getting
Despite being someone who has already been both blessed and stung badly by the Secret Santa Game (A packet of iced party rings? Really? They are like 50 pence a packet!) I have enjoyed both giving and receiving presents this year – in fact I have already filmed the Monday Vlog/Blog link which has me opening the amazing gifts I got from the Blogger Secret Santa (The organiser of the event,Casey, has already put up a post on the whole thing).
I appreciate that for children a big part of Christmas is receiving presents – if you have no income you often have to wait for special occasions to get ‘big’ gifts, like new bikes and phones, but as an “Adult” I don’t expect much. In fact as an apparently “high maintenance” person (not wanting chocolate and tat as a gift makes me hard to buy for, I have been told), I would rather not be bought things, as I know what I like and would rather get it myself. I do, however, enjoy buying things for others and I am looking forward to the kids opening their presents, especially the ones I have been able to hide and keep secret – no mean feat in this tiny little house! I have also managed to get out a secret present to a friend, whose reaction made me warm inside! I think that is the best bit, making someone happy.
The Christmas Feeling
While many people will say that food or presents are their favourite thing about Christmas, others will claim it is having some time off and being with the people they love. I would go one further than that – not that all of those things aren’t great – especially the food bit; I would suggest that Christmas often brings out the best in people, and that the actual best bit, is that the world is just a bit of a nicer place to be at this time of year.
Maybe it is because people have drunk a bit more than usual, or they are looking forward to receiving something nice (that they may have bought themselves and wrapped up, because that’s how it works in this house), maybe a random act of kindness can rub off on others, and love and kindness is spread by that means – like a joyful virus – either way, Christmas is more than the sum of its parts and I would call on all of my fellow ponderers to try and find a way to make life in general just that little bit more Christmassy for the people around them, now and all year round.
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?