It would seem strange not starting this article by saying that this year, Christmas is going to be very different. But we’ve heard that a thousand times already. So I’ll not labour the point. We know why it’s going to feel different and many of us who live alone, including me, are on tenterhooks waiting to see whether we’ll be able to share our big day with the ones we love.
But one thing that will no doubt be the same for many of us this year is our desperation to make Christmas as perfect as possible (in the circumstances). I know I can be guilty of it.
Racing to finish every last bit of work so you can have the perfect relaxing break.
Carefully co-ordinating your baubles and fairy lights to create the perfect Christmas tree to rival the giant in Trafalgar Square.
We’re even able to personalise our tins of Quality Street this year to make the perfect box of chocolates.
So, in 2020, we ‘perfectionists’ are probably going to go more all-out than ever before to try and make Christmas the most wonderful time of the year. To be fair, there’s not much competition – the year so far has been pretty shoddy to say the least. But the problem is, the harder we try, the more likely we are to miss the special moments that will make Christmas 2020 a good one (or at least, a fairly decent one, anyway).
We all know perfectionism isn’t possible. Our brains know that, and yet we still fool ourselves into thinking that if only we could do a bit more ‘x’ or be a bit more ‘y’ then we might feel a bit happier. But in trying to do more or be more we will never be able to pause, reflect and enjoy the moment. And if we can’t enjoy the moment, what’s the point in even trying to make the perfect moment happen?
The same goes for the perfect Christmas. Why put so much time and effort into trying to make it happen when you’ll never be able to stop and enjoy it anyway? Because perfection is an impossible destination. So just stop, mid-way through. Forget about your plan and do what feels good in the moment.
Don’t refuse to put that raggy little decoration you made at school on the tree because it doesn’t emulate Victoriana or Nordic charm. Just go with it.
Don’t refuse to cook your favourite Yorkshire Puddings for the big meal because it’s not ‘traditional.’ Just make what you fancy.
And don’t feel you have to watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve if all you really want to do is binge on Home Alone. Again.
November and early December can be a time of burnout for many of us. Because we’re trying so hard to get as much work completed as possible so we can enjoy Christmas that we are literally cramming every spare second. But when does Christmas start? The lights are going up earlier this year and the Christmas ads have already hit our screens. So why waste these moments pushing yourself harder than you need to. Enjoy the build up and the post Christmas lethargy, as well as the big day itself.
I know Christmas isn’t going to be easy. As I write this, part of me is dreading hearing the news that I might be stuck at home alone on the 25th December. But there are some things that are in my control. And even though it will never be perfect, I can do all I can to make it as nice and enjoyable as possible in the circumstances. And by doing ‘all I can’ I mean having the self discipline to stop trying so bloody hard.
So I’m going to try to accept the sadness and worry that I may or may not feel over the coming weeks. I’m going to try not to have such high expectations of the festive season this year. And in doing this, I might find myself giggling at the inevitable re-run of The Royle Family Christmas Special or wolfing down a pizza instead of a turkey dinner. Or perhaps dancing around the living room to Kylie like nobody’s watching because, well, nobody is watching.
And I might really enjoy it.
Merry Christmas. It starts whenever you want it to.