Forgive me if you are groaning at the word “Christmas” already, but keep reading if December is a time of stress or overwhelm because, with some reframing, it can be more of a holiday for you too. Perhaps your groan is the panicked consumerism or overcrowded supermarkets, I hope this article inspires you to create more enjoyable alternatives.
In our home, Christmas is a celebration lasting the whole month of December, literally on the 1st of December the Kindness Elves™ arrive and the tree goes up beginning the focus on acts of kindness, connecting with friends and magical events.
Get in touch with friends and family and ask them if they would consider doing activity days over presents, you will be amazed at the new traditions that can be created. We like to arrange special days with all of our friends and family, its like lots of mini Christmas days spread over the month.
With one family, we simply share food and light a fire, and the mother, who is fabulous at crafts, spends time making something creative with my son. With other friends, we go to a puppet show together each Christmas Eve. Last year a dear family we know took us to the beautifully illuminated outdoor ice rink, it was one of my highlights, picture a grown man crossed with Bambie on the ice, so much laughter! My point is that there are many opportunities to create cherished memories together that will last a lot longer than the latest toy.
By booking in dates now you can spread the cost, get good seats at venues and most importantly you and your friends can more easily fit these celebrations into the diary, reclaiming what Christmas is truly about – connecting with loved ones.
Yes, slowing down! Take time to breathe and really savour it. If you take only one thing from this article it is this! By getting organised in November you are already halfway there.
Let me introduce you to Snail Days, for me a parenting necessity: These are days that we are in our shell (home) and we are slow. We stay in our PJ’s, snuggle up on the sofa with a pile of books, light a fire, maybe make cookies or take long bubble baths – these days allow for lots of re-connection time. A suggested action that you can do right now is to look at your diary and put in a Snail Day especially in the run-up to Christmas or after trips away. I know that before Christmas this can be a challenge but even a few hours will support you and your children in being calm and grounded.
Build-in some self-care: Can you book in some pampering, such as a visit to the hair salon or the masseur the week before Christmas? If you are on a budget, get some bath oil and maybe a special candle and put in your diary a long bath night and self-massage after the kids have gone to bed and give yourself the self-care you need.
Reframe your Christmas grocery shopping experience. Can you buy groceries online? I love Abel and Cole’s website, not only do they post lots of Christmas recipes but underneath each, there is a button you can click to add the items to your shopping delivery automatically.
Instead of a supermarket can you get your fresh Christmas goods from a local farm? We go to a local bio-dynamic farm. There is no problem parking, we are in nature and the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. We make a day of it, meet friends, go for a walk around the farm and visit their coffee shop. Other added bonuses are that it is a community-run co-operative, so all profits go back into that community, we know exactly where our food has come from and how it has been grown and there are fewer food miles (thus less environmental impact). It’s a win all round!
If you do have to go to a supermarket last minute, take some handmade stars with you with “Merry Christmas” on them, my son loves giving them to strangers and I loved watching their faces light up.
Bring in the elves. Yes, really! The Kindness Elves™ is a concept created by The Imagination Tree. They arrive on our doorstep (magically!) in a small wooden box with a moss bed and a handwritten note. The note says that they have heard people on earth are really kind and they have come to see how we show kindness. Each morning in December my son jumps out of bed with excitement to see what suggestions they have left for him. The notes suggest kind acts such as baking cookies and sharing them with the postman and dustman, taking dog biscuits to the animal sanctuary, getting socks for a homeless person, making fat balls to feed the birds… you can let your imagination run wild. It really does create a magical feel for the whole month of December and moves the focus to one of gratitude, community and caring.
There is something quite touching when you receive a thoughtful handmade gift and the process of making things together can be fun and also help if you are on a budget.
Two years ago we cut out stars from white cardboard, painted them with glitter, and wrote (for each member of the family we knew) what we loved most about that person, we joined up the starts with thin gold ribbon and boxed them – our friends were truly moved by this and still have them hanging up to this day.
Last year we made play-dough. We had quite the production line going, rolling out the different colours and chopping them up and rolling them into balls. All my son’s friends loved them, they lasted for ages in the fridge. The parents were pleased as they are made from edible ingredients unlike some of the more toxic alternatives and encourage creative play.
This year we are making chocolate truffles. Picture them in recycled glass jars, with a simple brown tag “Made With Love xxx” attached by some twine and some simple gold ribbon.
I wish you a Christmas that is slow, connected, and meaningful. Be courageous and reclaim it so that it works for you and your family and truly brings you joy. Please let me know how you get on and share your ideas.
If you would like to have this level of awareness and support for your child on a day-to-day basis, thus bringing more connection and cooperation, please have a look at the courses and consultations pages.