I almost don’t want to think, type or even linger on the subject of Jesus’ birthday but we can’t avoid it in the UK. I started to fall out of love with Christmas before I had children. But it was after one particularly draining season when I was a full-time working mum with a young baby, plus a December financial year-end, a mystery illness that I wanted to block it out all together. But that’s unrealistic. So I started to formulate strategies to make Christmas fun and meaningful again.
Our European cousins do Christmas very well. It’s about scrummy food, cookies, stollen, gluhwein and spending time with family and friends. I had some very pleasant memories of Weihnacht celebrations in Germany, so when I fell out of love with Christmas in the UK, I delved here first for inspiration.
I started to think about what food would make the celebration special and whether I could make it myself, from scratch, such as mince pies, chocolates, biscuits. Therefore saving money but also having a bit of fun in the process, as I love cooking, as long as I have the time and energy!
The concept for BrightonMums.com when we launched in 2009 was built on the values of hyper-localism; supporting the local economy, engaging with the community in our street or city neighbourhood. The credit crunch was hitting us, we knew local business would suffer and in Brighton that would mean losing iconic local shops, pubs and restaurants which had been trading happily for decades. So my next inspiration for making Christmas personal and special was to to have a reliable list of traders in the city I could go to each year for my supplies and keep my finger on the pulse of new ones.
Rather than lament at the eco-disaster of mass consumerism, I started to research ways I could make our Christmas about reducing the impact on our planet. We used newspaper for wrapping – tarting it up with glitter glue and fancy (paper) ribbon, old jars for putting homemade chocolates in and encouraged the family to spend less on each other, doing Secret Santa for everyone who was there on Christmas Day. I stopped sending Christmas cards, therefore donating more money directly to the charity’s bottom line revenue.
A mantra which has also kept me sane around Christmas is remembering happy festive moments from my childhood. The consistent theme of these recollections was? GAMES! We always played games together on Christmas Day. In fact we still do, so I can’t take the credit but just acknowledging this immediately reinforced Christmas is certainly not all bad and to stop feeling sorry for myself!!!
What steps do you take to zone out necessary stresses and make sure Christmas is all about fun, making new memories with the family?
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