3… 2… and… IT’S CHRIIISTMAASSS! Well, almost. The big day is only 18 sleeps away and it can’t have escaped you that Christmas is everywhere. We’ve had Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and I, for one, have already put my tree up and had more than a few mince pies. Maybe you’re like me and you absolutely love the whole season (probably not exactly like me, I’m a grown adult who will be voluntarily sporting antlers throughout much of December), or maybe you’re not feeling excited at all, just pressured, anxious or a bit down. Either way, this blog is for you, it’s for all of us, a set of general guidelines to get us from here to Christmas with a little bit more peace and joy. Here’s hoping.
#1 – Take Care of You and Yours
This one’s pretty simple, and it will mean something different for almost everyone reading. Look after yourself and the people around you, don’t buy into anything that brings you more trouble than you feel it’s worth, and make sure to prioritise the things you need. Increasingly, and especially for the women who, for the most part, are making Christmas happen, the whole season can be just a rush of stress that ends up in total exhaustion by the time the school holidays start. We would all do well to remember that competitive gifting, cooking and prepping need not be what Christmas is all about, and to reject the pressure of a “perfect Christmas”. Martin Lewis talks sense about this, advising that striving for the unattainable perfect day, whether at Christmas, or when planning a wedding or any other big event, will probably just lead to debt, disappointment, or both. Perfect days just don’t happen, and we all know this really, in spite of the advertising that tries to make us feel differently. Your Christmas day doesn’t have to look like anything in particular, as long as it works for you, so say no to too much pressure and too much money spent. If you’re celebrating Christmas this year, just try to honour whatever it means to you, and enjoy those things on your own terms.
You can watch Martin Lewis talking about unnecessary gift-giving and the pressure that goes along with it here, and consider releasing yourself and your loved ones from any obligations you can’t meet.
#2 Do What Good You Can
Much of the messaging and marketing around Christmas would have us believe that everyone is simply having a wonderful time (to paraphrase a Beatle), with family, loved ones, too much food and a general atmosphere of comfort and joy. But again, we know this isn’t the case. There are many people in need at this time of year, and we can all channel the spirit of giving into making a change, however small it might be, to honour the true spirit of Christmas.
Why not consider supporting these organisations with your time or money this Christmas?
- Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland https://www.womensaidni.org/support-us/donate/
- Abortion Support Network https://www.asn.org.uk/donate/
- Trussell Trust runs over 20 Food Banks in NI https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/ways-to-give/
- Donate sanitary products via the Homeless Period Pink Bin in WRDA (6 Mount Charles, BT7 1NZ)
- Another World Belfast http://anotherworldbelfast.co.uk/
- Cool FM Cash For Kids http://www.cashforkids.uk.com/
And bear in mind that this doesn’t have to mean volunteering or making financial donations, we all know free time and money can be hard to come by at this time of year. Instead, it could be as simple as giving a little extra thought and care to those around you. If this is someone’s first Christmas since losing someone important, or you just know it’s a particularly tough time for them, for whatever reason, check in and see if there’s anything you can do to make it easier on them, and let them know that you’re there. And please, of course, extend this same compassion and care to yourself, if Christmas is hard, do whatever you need to do to make it easier, even if that means doing nothing at all…
#3 Understand That Everybody’s Christmas is Different
If Christmas really is the season of love and understanding, and I believe Shaky was on to something there, then we should all try to extend those things to everyone in our lives, whether their Christmas looks like ours or not. If you have a friend, or a colleague who, like me, goes a bit Christmas crackers and starts getting excited in September, make allowances for their daft behaviour, Christmas can really come to mean a lot when life gets tough, and I think that’s okay. Likewise, all of us elves need to bear in mind that there are plenty of good reasons why people don’t engage with Christmas, and forced fun is no fun at all, so don’t try to wrap your colleagues in tinsel and make them “get in the spirit”. Instead show everyone the respect of letting them do this time of year however they want to, and make everyone feel welcome to join in, or not. Both are fine choices.
However you spend the season WRDA hopes you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Blog by WRDA volunteer Lauren Donnelly