When You're Not a Fan of the Festive Season
It’s a weird time of year. Let’s be honest.
We have this romantic notion that the “festive season” is a non-stop time of jolliness and ribbons. We see visions of people clinking their champaign glasses, families huddled together in rare moments of connection and loved ones gathering from near and far in celebration.
For many of us, the reality couldn’t be further from this.
It’s the end of the year and many of us are feeling spent.
Oftentimes we’ve gone the entire year without a break from the crazy. We’ve been pushing and struggling for months and have finally made it over the finish line. Over the finish line to what?
Not a victory that’s for sure. Not even a celebration.
The reality for many is that this is a time of family obligations and being pushed into doing things we really don’t want to.
In-laws arrive to judge our approach to Christmas lunch. Cousins from the UK become month-long houseguests. Many of us find ourselves looking around at the holiday-makers around us wondering what on earth they’re celebrating. Why are all these people feeling the Christmas cheer and I’m not?
If you’re feeling like you’re alone in this, believe me: you’re not.
I’ve spoken to so many people over the last few weeks that feel exactly the same. Honestly? Most of us would rather run away.
There are a couple of things going on here.
This time of year comes with a massive expectation of clearing out the full year’s trash. We push through difficult times hoping that by some miracle a 2-week holiday at the end of the year is going to create magic. Suddenly, all our issues will subside and all will be well.
Maybe they will - if you’ve got something up your sleeve that consciously addresses that. I’m sure a two-week vacation in the Seychelles by yourself would go a long way.
But for the average person, there are no great escapes. A lot of people are staying at home and normal life just carries on.
This is where we may need to shift our expectation.
Maybe this time of year is NOT when we should be setting up grand ideals of perfect life. Maybe this is NOT the time of year when we should craft new plans and set resolutions for something fresh.
Maybe, with the knowledge that the crazy will continue, now with the added bonus of Aunt Glenda and your awful sister-in-law, Sue, it’s actually just a period of time you need to move through, in the most graceful way you can muster up.
And that’s ok.
No dreams of perfect family reunions and perfect summer tans. Just a couple of weeks you need to navigate in the most gentle way you know how.
2) A soft place to land
Finding ways to help you through this time are going to be hugely important right now. You might be feeling overwhelmed at having to entertain guests, cook meals or hold your tongue. But that doesn’t mean the whole experience has to pass by in a blur of awful.
The opposite, in fact.
This time of year is calling for rest.
It’s calling for replenishment and restoration. Even if you don’t have large pockets of time to allow for this you can definitely create the space for some.
In working with my clients on a coping plan, they’ve come up with all sorts of inspiring and realistic ideas to help them land softly during this time:
- Ask a relative to babysit so I can spend much-needed reconnection time with my partner
- Download a stack of novels to provide pockets of escapism during the chaos
- Set expectations with my mother-in-law ahead of time that Christmas won’t be a massive cooked ordeal and that purchased rotisserie chicken and salads will be just great
- Book a 3-day long weekend at the end of the crazy spell to provide a proper unwind before January back-to-work
- Download a meditation app to allow 5-10 minute reprieves during the busy day
- Agree with partner to provide each other a half day “break” to go and do whatever they want away from the family
If the upcoming holidays have got you in a bit of a spin too, I urge you to contemplate these two areas yourself:
1. How can you adjust your expectation and let go of the need for a “perfect Christmas”? Maybe this time of year is more about letting go and leaving the pushing for another time.
2. What specific things can you do to carve out pockets of peace, regardless of what kind of crazy you’ve got going on in your home?Write down something you can really look forward to during this time and something smaller than you can do every single day to help you tap into the calm.
Personally, I’m done with the pushing. I’m stepping away from other people’s ideas of what this time of year should be about. And I’ve decided not to feel guilty for doing the things that best serve me. In my world, that means lots of rest and replenishment.