…this treadmill of lists, lists and more lists of things to buy, things to do, things to cook and things to make. Most of it was a huge guilt trip of what I must do. I must have the perfect tree, beautiful table decorations, (department store catalogues have a lot to answer for), cards sent to everyone we know (even if we haven’t seen them for 10 years and have no contact other than 2 lines each year on a Christmas card). I agonized over the perfect gifts for everyone, from my kids and relatives to school teachers. I spent all of my free time and head space between late October and Christmas Eve at the shops, checking and rewriting lists, and going over what I had done and what I still needed to do. There was also the issue of negotiating “Who is going to have Christmas this year?” And like most families, probably the biggest headache, the guilt and expectations of what should happen on the big day. I was worn out trying to keep everyone happy and usually felt absolutely exhausted and miserable by Christmas day…
Now in early December as I flip through Christmas catalogues I feel extremely…neutral. There is no panic, no guilt, it almost laughable all this fuss.
I admit my children are older now and I am not required to spend a fortune in Toys ‘r’ us, so I think maybe it has just become easier, although I realize I have had this freedom since they were 8 years old. Oh, and they still have comprehensive lists.
We have Steve’s family coming for Christmas lunch. I have a vague plan in my head for this, although nothing has been purchased. I have this calm feeling and know that it will all come together.
I found the Christmas wreath in the shed yesterday whilst looking for the hedge trimmer. It went on the front door. The tree will go up sometime next weekend. There is no need to rush.
I’m looking forward to Christmas. Watching “Love Actually” and “Elf” on Christmas Eve, eating my Mum’s delicious Christmas pudding with brandy custard, enjoying the company of our family and friends, and watching the Boxing Day cricket test (Boxing Day is the day after Christmas in Australia, and the cricket game on that day is an Aussie institution).
I announced in Textile Traders a couple of weeks ago (much to the horror of the staff) “I hadn’t done any Christmas shopping and plan to do most of it on Christmas Eve”, just like last year. I also mentioned that Steve was going to come shopping with me – they were shocked about that as well!
How did I get to the point where Christmas for me is now a joy when previously it had been a nightmare of stress and guilt? Here’s the rest of the original article which I wrote at that time outlining how it happened:
Steve had been trying to get me to stress less about Christmas for years – he just didn’t get it. I was on this tread mill of things that had to be done. I was hooked into other people’s expectations of how it should be and what should be done.
The change in me was initiated following a discussion in my family to sort out a fair way to take turns for each side of the extended families to host Christmas day lunch (the favoured time to meet). Everyone had their own differing beliefs, values and ideas on how Christmas day should be and in the end we couldn’t come to an agreement.
I came home quite upset and Steve, who hadn’t been at the “discussion”, helped me work through my emotions, with lots of tears and tapping. I initially tapped on my own beliefs and hurt over how I thought Christmas should be. We were able to identify that the main issue surrounding Christmas for me was the guilt, the feeling that I was responsible for everyone else to have a good and fair Christmas. It took a whole lot of tapping to lessen my intensity. After that, I was then able to look at the issue from the perspective of the other people involved. This really helped for me to see what I was really pushing against, and also understand why they had reacted the way they did. The others were reacting from their own beliefs and ideals, which were different to mine, and it wasn’t personal. Once I could see that, I could step away and not react. I also no longer felt it was my total responsibility and could happily step back and let other people work it all out!
The best thing about this tapping process is that it not only released the family commitment and expectation stuff, ALL the other Christmas burdens lessened too.
That year, our Christmas preparation was much less stressful. As a result of the tapping I did, I was able to let go of my guilt over what I thought other people expected of me. I managed to do ALL the present shopping in 2 days , I only sent cards to people who sent them to me and/or who were the absolute nearest and dearest, I let the kids sort out the tree and didn’t buy any new decorations. (By the way our kids will tell you that the best Christmas tree they ever had was the one Steve made from a couple of twigs shoved into a jam jar and decorated with aluminum foil one year when we were away from home on a seaside holiday!)
I now find am much more at peace and able to enjoy November and December (in Australia) for its lovely warm weather and gorgeous Jacaranda trees in full bloom. All the pressure of the advertising and shop displays and people telling me “there are only x days till Christmas” is still happening but it doesn’t give me the same overwhelming feelings of guilt and pressure that it used to. My motto is “Christmas is on 25 December”.
I do know that there is a lot to do for Christmas, and I will have some very busy days in the lead up as a lot of shopping and preparation is unavoidable (and the shops will be busier the longer I leave it.) But I found before that even if I started in October I would still be at the shops on Christmas Eve anyway for some last minute thing. I can now contain the busyness and head space to a small amount of time.
I feel much more at peace, I’m sure my kids are happier that mum isn’t so busy with preparations that she hasn’t got time for them. And Steve is saying “Finally, happy wife, happy life”.