Why Christmas isn’t always what you think it is


It’s not long now until Christmas. I’m really sorry if I’ve just made anyone’s blood pressure rise. A few years ago I too felt anything but excited. I was in a somewhat rebellious and ‘anti-Christmas’ mood that I knew had been brewing for a few years.

For a start, I was getting thoroughly fed up with the lead up to Christmas, the silly season, as some people like to call it. Life seems to speed up for women at this time of year – why do we let that happen?

Also, I felt I was grinning and bearing the commercial aspect of Christmas that I have struggled with, for far too long.

Why we need Christmas traditions

To say in my defence, I did it for the sake of my children. Having suffered perhaps more than our fair share of life changing events as a family (often coincidentally in the pre-Christmas season), I knew deep down that clinging to some of our usual Christmas traditions had a true purpose. Even if this meant an excess of food, drink or presents!

Perhaps it’s understandable that you would crave a sense of normality when you’ve just buried a much-loved granddad who died of cancer. Especially when you discover a few days later that his son (your husband) has cancer too. And all this with just a few days to go before Christmas.

It wasn’t our first challenging Christmas either. Although fortunately my husband recovered over time, for a few years it seemed as if the Christmas season would, without fail, bring some heartache to our house.

The result? We started to cherish our Christmas traditions and rituals more than ever. They took on an important role in becoming the safety net my family clearly needed at that time of year.

image3[3]Whilst I may have rebelled at the mountain of waste, the extra work and the stress, I could see how our seasonal customs helped us.

Whether we would buy a real tree just before Christmas, make time to bake special treats or open presents on Christmas Eve (the German way), it gave us hope.

But still, certain aspects of Christmas just wouldn’t go away for me, starting with what I consider an extravagant use of Christmas cards.

I not only had issues with the ever-increasing waste paper mountain. I questioned why we would send an impersonal card to people especially those we see quite regularly. Why not wish neighbours, colleagues and local friends a much more meaningful ‘Merry Christmas’ in person?

When something needs to change

So I stopped complaining and replaced cards with environment friendly e-greetings, picking up the phone and texting people instead. It feels really good and makes sense. (Although don’t get me wrong, I really do respect other people’s personal reasons to send cards!)

What makes sense to you? Maybe you can share a little blogging love with a post especially written for Christmas? Or why not fire off a quick message to your online friends in other parts of the world? They will appreciate to hear from you especially as not everyone is fortunate enough to spend the holidays with family.

“Just do it” your way!

Eventually, I took things a step further. Having had a good run of Christmases without any major ‘trauma’ I felt it was time for more changes.

We said no the usual menus, no to the unnecessary waste of food, sweets and alcohol, and no to presents, except for one present per person.

I loved it. Christmas had become simpler and more meaningful.

There was none of the usual pressure, nothing I felt I ‘should’ do (just because it’s Christmas and because it’s what your friends or neighbours do too.)

Christmas star lightIt even worked during the worst of the pandemic where zoom calls had to  replace live celebrations. In the end, that wasn’t so bad.

Because what we learn in difficult times is what truly matters. Some traditions may actually be more important than others.

I think dealing with negative experiences over Christmas can bring home to you that some things can be pretty meaningless in the bigger scheme of things. For example, giving presents to people who already have everything.

Why give in to the media’s influence that makes you think (wrongly) that it’s only that special present that will put a smile on someone’s face?

What really matters

Whilst presents may be lovely for children, as you get older you are probably happy to have your health and feel close to those you love. And I don’t mean physically close here. Nothing else matters that much at the end of the day.

So try not to let it worry you much when you get to Christmas and realise that you’ve forgotten to send your email newsletter out, didn’t press ‘publish’ on your latest blog or forgot to buy that special tipple for Uncle Harry. (Uncle Harry may be more than happy with a flying visit or a personal call that shows that you care.)

Are you not quite sure where you stand when it comes to Christmas?

Whatever life throws at you, try to resist the pressure to celebrate it in a way you feel you should. Instead mark it in the way you really want to – a way that gives you and your loved ones meaning.

Remember it is love and hope and joy that count. Especially in these difficult and confusing times. Regardless of how you spread this love, it doesn’t have to look like presents.

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Ute Wieczorek-King

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced Business Owner, Trainer, Coach & Mentor. As co-Founder of Attract Readers she specialises in helping women to share their voice confidently through blogging to get known, liked and trusted online (especially when feeling a little shy). She ran the first government funded social media courses in the South East 13 years ago and has partnered with Corporates, Charities, Start-up Academies, and hundreds of independent women in business. Since taking up blogging in 2007 she has written for Huffington Post, Prowess UK, Attract Readers as well as her own blog.

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