7 Things I Love About Christmas – Why I Heart The Festive Season
It’s no great secret – I absolutely love Christmas. I mean, really love it. In fact, I’m one of those annoying people who thinks dressing up as an elf is great fun, would happily listen at the door then contribute to carollers, and can watch the old holiday favourites time after time without getting bored. But what is it about Christmas that melts me faster than a snowman by the crackling fire? Here’s the main 7 things I love about Christmas…
What I Love About Christmas
Personal Meaning: Autonomy & Independence
When Christmas rolls around it’s a big shiny life-affirming example to me of how determined, independent and full of resolve I am. Being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness I didn’t have Christmas as a child. Yeah, a lot of this post probably makes sense now, right?
In fact, my first celebration of Christmas was a pretty lame affair by myself at about 19 years old once I’d left home, trying to scramble my life into making some sort of sense.
Celebrating Christmas each year is not just me celebrating it like any other person; it’s a demonstration to myself and the world that I’m my own person. I’m not controlled by others, by religion (yep, even though it’s supposedly a religious festival -but we’ll debate the truth of that some other time), by my parents –I make my own rules. If I want to damn well celebrate an epic Christmas every year with my family, then I damn well will! And I don’t give a seasonally-herbed stuff if anyone doesn’t agree.
It’s About Togetherness
Christmas isn’t something that we’ve decided to do just as our family, it’s something that plenty of other people do as well. At the same time of year, with the main celebration on the same day. As a traditionally and still predominantly Christian country, it feels like the United Kingdom is celebrating Christmas together, with shared values and traditions – with some of the national customs going back hundreds of years, on top of the thousands of years for the general paganism elements.
It’s especially important and pertinent to me that I feel we’re celebrating Christmas as a nation, because when I was little it was very much something everyone else was doing, and there was no escaping the feeling that I/my family wasn’t.
I am obviously aware of and respect the fact that there are a great many people in the UK and worldwide who don’t celebrate Christmas. No problem with that at all, of course. For those that do, I love feeling like I’m at last a part of the multitude of people celebrating in similar ways, passing on old global, national and simply family traditions to my children for them to perhaps teach to theirs someday.
There’s a warm feeling of community and strong emotional bonds at Christmas time, for me, when people should be that little bit kinder and that little bit more generous with their smiles and goodwill, if nothing else. I know: it’s all a bit picture-postcard Dickensian but I’ve always liked a good, heart-warming story.
Quality Family Time
Despite working from home, along with my partner who also works from home, and being there for school runs and the like, I don’t get as much quality time with the family as I’d like. There’s a difference between being physically present in a building, and spending an amount of time without distraction and worry, totally focused on my partner and children.
I’ve been incredibly lucky in recent years – well, I’ve worked to get to this point, more accurately – to be able to (mostly) ‘down tools’ when December strikes. For the most part, my job is content writing & publishing, whether articles for my own site, other websites, print publications or various product reviews and consultancy reports. The beauty of online content is that much of it can be created then scheduled for publication in advance, meaning that I spend September-through-November each year creating December’s content and scheduling the release dates. With fantastic online content tools like IFTTT and Buffer I can also schedule the social media updates for the right times, too.
It’s a LOT of work… but when December comes it’s SO worth it. It might seem incredibly luxurious, taking a whole month off –but you have to remember that I don’t take any other proper holidays during the year. I don’t get to fly off somewhere lovely for a week or two; the most I take in the year is a Friday and/or a Monday here and there. There isn’t much room for extended breaks from life/work in a busy life freelancing and with family obligations.
Even through December I don’t cut ties with work completely, because I still need to check that no-one’s trying to hack, post spam, start fights on the forum or that some other crises have occurred. Without the pressure of writing new content and reviews, and answering email queries, I can for the most part relax. And with relaxation comes quality family time.
It’s so brilliant to spend the month watching Christmas films, drinking hot chocolate (& a mulled wine or two) and being that holiday-style ‘mom’ that you see in the movies. Complete with floury apron.
We go out a LOT, we craft, we bake, we sing songs, we play games –and I love it. Makes me sad I can’t do that all the time… but the bills need paying, unfortunately!
Hobby Time & Self-Care
Because of the break from work over December which I detailed above, I also have more time for any hobbies that have been gathering dust in my life –metaphorically and literally.
For example, I absolutely love reading. Reading makes me feel happy, and calm, and it also makes me a much better writer (in my opinion). The irony is that because I write so much of my own content the rest of the year, I barely get any time to read books any more. When I was a teen, I could devour a book or even two in a day. Now it’s more like 4-6 a year, if I’m lucky.
Then there’s the types of crafting that I enjoy, and while I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge crafter, there’s a few types I can get down with. Decorations for our home, hand-made or baked gifts for others, colouring-in books to soothe the mind. As well as crafting with the kids of course (when they’re in the mood).
Christmas is a time for family, but it’s also time for me. December is my month to chill, to reflect, to rest (when I’m not stressing over the turkey). I can bathe in self-care, finally –and literally, with the kind of deep bubble baths and Lush bath bombs, and a glass of wine on the side, that I almost never get the time to indulge in usually. Christmas is a required reset switch for me each year, and prepares me for another year of hectic work, the heavy duties that come with being a mother (and autism mama at that) and all the other day-to-day stresses of adult life.
‘Tis better to give, than to receive.
Unsurprisingly, I’m really not one for the Bible -but that quote is the solid gold truth. One of the best parts of Christmas for me is giving presents to other people. And I’m not saying that in a, ‘oh I’m just such a charitable little Christmas angel!’ type way, I genuinely mean it.
That feeling when you give someone a gift, especially when you’ve carefully selected it especially for them and believe it will add something valuable to their life, is a big part of what Christmas means to me.
I don’t believe there is any truly benevolent act, because you can always feel great about doing something which seems selfless, but that’s not to say the acts aren’t worthy despite that. I don’t believe total benevolence should be the goal, because feeling great about our actions is a massive motivator for those actions. You felt brilliant because you donated to charity, or have money to a homeless person? Good! Don’t feel guilty about feeling kind; that feeling can be remembered and inspire you to do it again. If the end result is positive, does it really matter if you felt good about it inside?
My little ramble aside, I do love seeing people’s faces light up when I give gifts at Christmas –especially my children, of course. A small part of that is the delight which comes from knowing I’ve been able to give them what I never had, proper Christmases including the Father Christmas story, but the major element is their excitement. I quite often find myself wiping away tears as they storm the lounge on Christmas morning all excited, in their Christmas Eve PJs, torn wrapping paper soon flying everywhere. I’m getting all emotional writing about it, and I haven’t even had any mulled wine today! (yet)
Like a lot of my women friends, I’m usually on a diet. ‘Diet’ meaning, not eating everything in sight that I really quite fancy, but which I know I’d regret afterwards because I’d like to remain the dress size I am, or because I’m working towards a goal.
At Christmas, I chuck all that out of the window and have a much-needed break from all that palaver, all the self-consciousness, all the body goals, and just feast. Hey, I need the extra padding to get through the winter anyway.
A massive part of Christmas tradition, at least here in the UK, is tied to the food and drink element of Christmas. There are foods and drinks especially for the seasonal occasion, which makes them extra special and almost impossible to resist –even if you wanted to, which I don’t.
There’s the turkey, of course, with stuffing; all the trimmings, and you have to have pigs in blankets, obviously. Christmas cake, Yule log, mince pies. You might have your family favourites for the festive season when it comes to treats… are you a Roses or Quality Street house? Maybe you favour the more recent additions of Heroes or Celebrations? And it wouldn’t be Christmas without a Chocolate Orange somewhere along the way, maybe some Twiglets, cheesy footballs, Turkish delight, Matchmakers, a bowl of peanuts and a chocolate Santa. We always try to get a mini crate of tangerines for under the tree –they have to be in a crate, I think it’s a British law or something- while a bowl of mixed nuts topped with the nutcracker gathers dust on the side.
All washed down with port, sherry, Cointreau or mulled wine. Then it’s time for the cheese and paté…
Time for more Dickensian idyll. Christmas is a time when it’s traditionally cold outside, and the contrast of the dark skies and icy air with a toasty home and family warmth is another big reason why I love Christmas time.
The idea of a white Christmas while the logs crackle on the fire might be a little too far into the realms of fantasy for most over the festive period; we rarely (if ever) get snow at Christmas in England. It’s always snowing in our hearts, though (too sickly-sweet? Sorry).
I’m extremely aware of how privileged I am to be able to enjoy not only a toasty home but to be surrounded by a loving family sharing that warmth at Christmas and throughout the year. It’s a privilege not shared by everyone, sadly.
Social issues and sadness aside, the contrast of short daylight hours, early darkness and icy cold weather, with central heating, hot chocolate, blankets and snuggles, is the cherry on the Christmas cake for me.
What do you love about Christmas? Many had a very different childhood to mine, with years of Christmases with their own parents to look back on, and different family traditions that maybe no-one else knows about or joins in with.
Are you bothered about Christmas or can it just do one? Are you an ecstatic elf over the festive period, or a grumpy Scrooge, drawing the curtains against the twinkles til January comes around?
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Also: Merry Christmas everyone! xxx