What happens when the “most wonderful time of the year” rolls around and you’re just not feeling it?
We’re constantly told that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but honestly? It’s sometimes hard to feel that way.
This year Flea moved schools. That’s a short sentence but it was an incredibly hard situation. Our summer was basically an expensive, stressful disaster. I’m in the midst of trying to buy/sell a house, with all the stress and worry that brings.
And it’s December! There’s rotten weather and damp patches in the hallway and the sure and certain knowledge that half my clients won’t pay their bills before they disappear for Christmas.
Is it surprising if you look at Instagram and wonder, “Am I the only one not feeling joyful and enchanted?”
When We Don’t Feel Festive
I suspect a lot of people have similar feelings, sometimes.
Maybe you lost someone, and this time of year is a painful reminder of someone who isn’t with you. Maybe you’re newly separated, or you’re struggling with family drama, or money worries, or health problems.
As kids get older, the Christmas spirit is not quite so obvious. They no longer have nativity plays or home-made Christmas cards to share. They’re not excited to see Santa or make reindeer food. They shrug when you ask about presents, because basically, they don’t trust you to buy the right thing.
They might not even want to get out of bed to help you decorate the house!
In case you’re feeling similar, I thought today I’d share the things that are helping to boost my Christmas spirit this week. If you’ve got more, then I’d love to hear them.
What I’ve realised is that I need to take care of me, before I can be ready to celebrate the season with others. For you, self-care might be taking a bath with a great book.
For me, it’s booking a spa day with a relaxation treatment. And a good book. I’m about to dive into this new novel by fabulous fellow blogger Jo Middleton – doesn’t it look fab?
If you want to feel the festive warm and fuzzies, get a dog. Or a cat. Basically, you need a pet, that you can dress up in a Christmas jumper and force to pose for photos.
Teddy’s Christmas jumper has a Christmas tree with little lights – that ACTUALLY light up. I cannot tell you how much joy this gives me.
This weekend, I took Flea to see the Christmas Lights at Dunham Massey. This is a National Trust property about an hour from where we live.
We arrived and had a bit to eat at the on-site restaurant, before spending a lovely couple of hours touring the outdoor lights. There are tunnels of fairy lights, fields of giant baubles that flash in time with the music, 20 foot tall stags and, oh, lots more.
It was a really lovely evening and definitely made me feel very festive! Check out your local National Trust sites if you want to be inspired!
Go to the Cinema
Our second festive activity of the week was seeing Elf at our local cinema. Over the Christmas season, lots of cinemas show classic Christmas films. Often the tickets are cheap as anything – our tickets cost just £5 each. Seeing a movie at the cinema is perfect because a) popcorn and b) it’s all dark when you come out of the movie and the twinkly lights help prolong that festive feel!
Trim the Tree
We tend to not put up our Christmas tree until the weekend before Christmas but this year Flea’s going to be away with her Dad, so we’ve done it a little earlier.
Our tree decor doesn’t have a colour scheme or a smart theme. But what it does have are ornaments that tell the story of our adventures. Each time we visit a new place, we try and find a new ornament. They’re rarely expensive, and often quite weird. But as we decorate the tree, it’s fun to remember the places we’ve been.
Like the Christmas lobster. From Martha’s Vineyard.
This year, I loved reminiscing about our Christmas trip to New York, and the year before that we were in Chicago. We chat about the ornaments we got at the German Christmas markets, and the Disney ornaments from LA, Florida and Paris.
Guaranteed festive feels.
It would take a monster to watch Hallmark Movies and not feel festive. I’ve provided my own round-up of the best Hallmark movies on UK television this Christmas but honestly? It’s hard to find a Hallmark movie that won’t give you the festive warm and fuzzies.
Especially if consumed with a cup of tea and a box of Quality Street.
Taking the time to do something for others is the best way to remember what Christmas is all about.
This week we’ve been pulling together the last items in our reverse advent calendar, which will be donated to a food bank. We also donated our old sofa and armchair to local families, after our new ones were delivered.
One of our local charities is also collecting socks for the homeless.
I bought a pair of thermal socks and put one sock inside the other. I added some basic essentials like soap, deodorant and a toothbrush, with some thermal gloves. Then you just tie up the sock before donating. It’s a lovely, practical way to help someone else, especially in this horrible weather.
There are only a couple of times in the year when it’s accessible to cook a whole camembert, stick some garlic and rosemary inside, and then dunk bread until it’s all gone. One is in the summer, at a garden dinner party with friends. The other is Christmas, when you’re pretending that you’re on a ski holiday.
Friends, I urge you to make the most of this short, seasonal window.
Eat the cheese.
A Carol Service
I know that not everyone reading this will be a churchgoer, but even if you’re not a person of faith, there’s something very special about a carol service.
This week was the service for our local Scout Association. As Beaver leader, I get to escort my pack to the service and listen to a hundred or so local kids murder a series of carols. It’s very festive, and lots of fun.
Family & Friends
Sometimes when you’re feeling low, it’s tempting to hibernate at home. But making the effort to spend time with the people you love is almost always a mood booster.
This week, I’m off on an annual shopping day with my Mum. We’ll drive to Liverpool and explore the department stores and pick out gifts together. It’s as much about the tradition as the shopping – it’s just a vital part of our family Christmas!
When we were in Bath & Body Works this summer, I picked up a stash of seasonal candles. Yes, they were ridiculously heavy. Yes, I was paranoid they would break on the way home.
But I’m ridiculously happy now that I have a “Let It Snow” candle burning on my fireplace.
If you don’t have Bath & Body Works then Yankee Candle Christmas Cookie or Red Apple make for gorgeous winter mood-lifters.
So there you have it. I might not be feeling 100 percent festive yet (maybe I need to wait until my Christmas Eve glass of Baileys?) but I’m definitely feeling a lot closer. And if you’re not feeling the festive spirit, I think it’s important you know that it’s TOTALLY okay and normal.