Is it me or does anyone else wonder what on earth has happened to Christmas?? With all the expense. add-ons and pressure nowadays to be the ‘perfect’ host, it’s no wonder people are finding that instead of being a time of peace and togetherness, the stress of it all now far outweighs the good.
I have been talking to my grandmother and a few others, who love to reminisce about Christmas as they were growing up in the 1940’s/1950’s. Christmas back then actually started on Christmas eve (not in November), with the only exception of getting a Yule log for the fire, and making a Christmas pudding a few weeks beforehand. Most children in those days had been used to food and clothes rationing all of their lives, and as a consequence the ‘feast’ of today’s Christmas would be a very humble Turkey dinner with homegrown veg from the garden. Children would traditionally get only one present from their parents, and their most prized possession would be the 2oz chocolate bar in their Christmas stocking. Most families would have no TV, and entertainment would consist of singing some carols around the piano and gathering around the fireplace and wireless for the Queen’s speech.
But my question is: were the kids any less happy? Was it enough? Talking to my grandmother and some elderly friends they say they were immensely happy with what they had, and did not want for anything. The few select presents they received were their pride and joy, and lined up before bedtime next to their bed. In my experience, the less I give my kids, the happier and more grateful they are.
Now, I am not suggesting that we go back to the 1950’s and give our children oranges in their stocking with a couple of chocolate pennies, but I do wonder if we over-do it nowadays.
I have been thinking about the extra things that have been popping up over the last couple of years that have just contributed to Christmas being sickeningly over-commercialised and in the my opinion, drawing us even further away from it’s true meaning: a time of gratitude and time with loved ones.
I look back to Christmas when I was little, and despite being more extravagant than my grandmother’s day, it definately still seemed to retain some kind of magic about it. The gifts we had were simpler than nowadays, and the focus was still on spending time with family. I love the captured images of those memories – the tacky decor, non-focused, blurry faces. The simpler presents. Throwback to a simpler, happy time.
Today’s extravagancies now include advent calendars that cost the earth and no longer simply consist of the daily chocolate delight of times past (or if you look even further back, a simple candle). Now, we have the glorious options of cheese, perfume, gin, lego, makeup or jewellery calendars to name but a few. God, I remember we used to just have those advent calendars with a picture in every day.. a stocking, a reindeer, a jingle bell. The excitement was palpable. It wasn’t until I went to my mates house and discovered she had chocolate in hers. The cheek of my parents. Nowadays a ‘picture’ calendar would justify a call to childline.
And as if the indulgent Christmas dinner and desert wasn’t enough, now we have Christmas breakfasts with full kitted out crockery sets, specially for the festive season. If you don’t design your pancakes into some kind of festive art and instagram, your work what have you actually been doing?
And then we come to our favourite topic of elf on the shelf. Despite being such a contraversial topic over social media, I have to admit I do love them. However, if you look at some of the millions of pinterest image ideas, these can be very elaborate. Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t have the time to make a drum kit out of bloody tin cans and make our elf into the lead drummer in a boy band. Our elves just move around the house and our kids think it’s great.
Are you taking the kids to see Santa this year? Is that by train, boat or helicopter? Or are you earning brownie points and taking them to ACTUAL Lapland? And don’t forget the mechandise from this year’s John Lewis/M+S/ALDI advert? Need to stock up on the basics mama!
And all this alongside the buildup to Christmas, is the full-time job that is the primary school festive calendar. Woe betide if you forget the donations, dates for your diary, the Christmas Fayre, School play, non uniform days, handmade costumes, cans of beans for the hamper, requests for handmade cakes, homemade ‘projects’ and the general soul-destroying task of trying to bin your precious kids’ ‘creations’ that they stuff in their school bags such as a loo roll with a pipe cleaner stuck on.
And the decorarations…what ‘theme’ are you having this year? Monochrome? Rose gold? Gone are the days where we simply chucked a load of tinsel on a wilted, leaning fake tree and called it festive?
Oh, and Christmas Eve! Don’t forget this day as now it pretty much requires the same effort as the big day itself. You have to begin with the aforementioned Christmas breakfast complete with festive accessories, then apparently you have to provide a bloody box of presents compiling of crafty crap, reindeer snow, new matching pyjamas for the whole family, a DVD boxset and sugary goodies. In the evening you have completely failed your kids if you don’t have a handmade, personalised (preferably by you in your ”spare” time) ceramic plate and mug for Father Christmas. Then you absolutely need to instagram or vlog yourself reading the Christmas story to your sugar-high kids before tucking them into bed. Then you can get cracking on ensuring your living room is pinterest worthy with the kids’ personalised hessian sacks full to bursting with elaborate gifts. Oh, and Christmas Eve is also for all those unique ‘traditions’ that you, as a fantastic parent, should have well established.
The craziness that we now call Christmas is simply doing my nut in. We do have a select few things that mean something to us that we do in our household, but basically we just love keeping things simple at christmas. This is not intended as a dig to families that embrace ”Crazy Christmas” with open arms. I am a strong believer that if you genuinely love doing what you do and you can afford it, go for it! What I don’t like is the relentless pressure on people, especially parents to provide this elaborate Christmas experience for their kids- which is just in my opinion is unnecessary. Kids need your love and time. That is it.
So if you can’t afford to keep up with the Jones’ this year or feel like a failure because you just haven’t the time to tick of all those festive ‘must haves,’ have no fear. YOU are enough. Give of your love and time and your kids will thank you for it!
Merry Christmas Everyone! What do YOU love to do over Christmas in your household to keep the spirit of Christmas?