Every year the 24th of December comes around; Christmas Eve. Stockings hang over the roaring fire. Presents are wrapped neatly and tucked under the tree and the whole family sits down with a mince pie whilst they hum Christmas songs.
Ok, wait a second, let’s rewind. That little picture I painted above could not actually be further from the truth.
Families are far more likely to be frantically wrapping presents, shouting at each other because someone used up all the sellotape. Dad’s will be in the kitchen with their anxiety rising as they eye up the Christmas turkey, knowing that there is no way it is going to feed sixteen people. Small children will run around the house asking when Santa is going to arrive, mums will be ignoring their pleas as they desperately try to clean the house so it looks acceptable for tomorrows guests (and let’s be honest, a mother’s standards are wholly unrealistic so everyone knows she will never be satisfied).
In reality, Christmas is a stressful time and this stress often reaches a crescendo on Christmas Day. Someone will be disappointed that they didn’t get a new Xbox. An element of the Christmas dinner will either be forgotten or burnt and of course, no Christmas would be a real Christmas without a difficult family member criticising other peoples’ efforts which will undoubtedly end in an argument.
It seems that as a society we agonise for months over Christmas. Drawing up lists of what presents to buy and what foods to purchase. Hours and hours are dedicated to decorating trees and putting lights up. Days are spent writing Christmas cards to people that you never speak to, but feel obliged to send one to, because you get one through the post from them every year.
But, is it all really worth it? The pressure, the anxiety, the money, the time? Now don’t get me wrong. Christmas is a wonderful time of year and it is a celebration that all generations look forward to. It is a time for families to come together and have fun but sometimes, the fun becomes secondary to stress. What if people simplified Christmas and went with what I like to call ‘oh well’ responses.
Someone forgets to buy Brussel sprouts… ‘Oh well’, no one really likes them anyway.
David didn’t get the latest iPhone he wanted… ‘Oh well’, he can just be grateful for what he did get.
Granny and Grandad only ever drive at 2mph and never leave on time so Christmas dinner is delayed… ‘Oh well’, the main thing is they did get here and now everyone is united as a family.
Christmas seems intrinsically linked with pressure but it doesn’t need to be. Why don’t people experiment this year and accept, before it has even happened, that things will go wrong. It is only once a year and so everyone seems to try to make it the most special day of the year, but in 365 days it will come back around and if you were to have the ‘perfect Christmas’ then next years couldn’t possibly live up to it.
So, when dad burns the turkey just laugh it off, stick some chicken nuggets in the oven and say ‘oh well’!