Here’s the thing. Sometimes…ugh…who am I kidding…frequently:
I find myself questioning certain Christmas ‘Traditions’ that seem to have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Don’t get me wrong. As mentioned by my lawyer (ahem) in the disclaimer above, I am not – I repeat NOT – Bah Hambug.
I love Christmas. That warm feeling I get walking into a beautifully decorated cafe or shop, hearing the sound of Nat King Cole (yep, guilty) playing and of course, seasonal hot chocolate, Christmas lights, spending time with my family and friends etc. I’d have to be nitwit not to enjoy all that.
(Hubster is the one who’s Bah Humbug. The one job I asked him to do was clearly a bit much: the beautiful cloth advent calendar is still waiting to be put up. Just whatever Dude.)
Please bare with me while I get trough this or use the table of contents to dive straight ahead.
7 Christmas Traditions That Totally Get on my Nerves
But I’ve become more unsettled each year with what feels like the insane festive overdrive.
I will never get my head around how so many shops start the Christmas-athon immediately after Halloween. Good grief. By the time Christmas Day actually arrives, one’s almost sick of Christmas.
And social media, would you just calm down?
It seems I can’t go a day on Twitter, Facebook, etc without stumbling over yet another image of some activity or tradition I ‘ought’ to be doing to ensure my kids to have the bestest ever Christmas. Homemade Christmas decorations, pinterest-perfect Christmas cookies, houses decorated to perfection, gingerbread houses even better decorated than real houses… it just goes on and on.
Maybe my aversion to all this says more about my own psychological makeup than it does anything else? Don’t answer that. Sorry, certain things just aren’t my thing (although I’m trying to ‘come round’).
Maybe if I’d had my kids when I was younger, I’d have more parenting energy and would LOVE the many traditions that exist and would be going at them with glee and Christmas cheer.
I totally admit, everyone is different.
It’s all subjective. Maybe I shouldn’t even write this post at all given how I was already over Christmas before December even hit (being a blogger, I see a stupendous number of Christmas blog posts from the start of November and even saw one in September, which surely qualifies for some sort of legal penalty?).
I think there was actually a trigger to this Christmas overdrive aversion a while back…
Pull up your chair. Shortly after Cheeky K was born, I was invited to a Christmas gathering by an expat mum. There was no requirement to bring anything other than ourselves.
Well there was one thing we needed to ‘bring’… We were asked to come ready to share stories/examples of the Christmas traditions we had created over the years with our families. I panicked. Traditions? What the what?
I cancelled. Seriously. I didn’t go. (And believe me, I was desperate to get out after being housebound for weeks with new baby.)
Okay, I had a legitimate excuse as I wasn’t meant to be driving so soon after my third c-section.
But that’s not really why I didn’t go. You see the problem was:
I couldn’t think of a single tradition we observed. I didn’t even KNOW what she meant, for crying out loud.
I thought, I decorate the tree/half the house, I buy the gifts, I fight with the end of the sellotape roll, I wrap the gifts, I half-heartedly consider Jamie Oliver’s alternative mince pie recipes and then side with Delia’s traditional ones instead, Hubster makes a stonking meal, we open the gifts, we lose at least two items from the kids’ new toys and games before we’ve even cleared up the wrapping paper waste, I pass out with a belly full of food and wine, I wake up, I raid the cheese and chocolates…
Isn’t that what everyone does?
Now I find out I was supposed to be making traditions?!
There was no way I could sit there in front of those perfectly coiffed, preppy, upwardly mobile women and admit that I didn’t exactly, erm, [whispering as quietly as possible] have any Christmas traditions that I’d come up with all by my clever little self.
Fact is, we just didn’t do Christmas traditions when I was growing up!
We were blessed enough to grow up in a household where our parents loved and got excited over an occasion that had no connection at all to their Indian heritage.
Christmas is not a part of Punjabi culture but Mum and Dad, despite being first generation immigrants, still made an effort to celebrate it and make sure their children got to enjoy it, in their own way.
A turkey was always lovingly prepared; yes it had a spicy Indian masala marinade instead of sage stuffing but it was bloody good and it was a turkey, something a lot of my Indian friends and Hubster himself didn’t have.
There were always presents under the tree; yours truly had to spend all Christmas Eve wrapping the damned things but we had a tree and we had presents.
Father Christmas? I don’t remember much; we didn’t do the mince pie and glass of milk thing as my parents didn’t know about it. We hardly suffered. I think as we got a bit older, we had stockings but they weren’t hung up by a fireplace or anything. No big deal.
Maybe the rest of the world was busy with ‘other’ traditions while in the suburbs of North West London, my family and I bumbled along celebrating our ‘clueless Christmas’.
Somehow I think not. I don’t think the rest of the world in the 70’s and 80’s were breaking out the reindeer dust or running out to buy the most impressive elf.
But all these years later, raising my own family, I’m feeling overwhelmed and deflated by the over the top stuff that goes on in the run up to the big day and I just can’t keep up (nor do I want to).
In fact, why (and when) did Christmas get so far away from what it’s actually meant to celebrate?
I’m not religious. Not one bit. But what the dickens has an elf got to do with Christ-mass?
Yes, I get the elf is on Santa’s payroll and I get what the idea is but for the love of Christmas Pudding, it’s just the blatant commercialism behind that and other ideas that gets me.
And it just gets worse with every year…
I know, horses for courses. There are far more important things to get wound up over.
Just because others get excited over reindeer dust and wrapping Santa’s gifts in different paper, it doesn’t mean I should feel pressured to do so.
I probably shouldn’t get my big girl pants in a twist but I really do think Christmas has got out of hand.
Well Christmas hasn’t. People have. It’s like everyone’s gone a bit mad in the name of giving children a magical Christmas.
Yet There Is One Important Tradition That Has Died Out… One We Need To Bring Back
Wishing each other Happy Christmas. I’m not talking about friends and family.
I mean that person at the petrol station, the barista in the coffee shop… nobody says it in shops, restaurants, service-oriented industries.
We spend, spend, spend. But there seems to be no well-wishing.
Maybe there are too many of us; maybe it’s exhausting for the supermarket checkout person or people in retail to say it all day long.
Maybe it is still said in little villages.
But I can honestly say in the last twenty years since returning from Paris to London and then moving to Malta, I just do not hear it being said. This is sad.
Instead, there’s a preoccupation with:
1) Reindeer Poop
Who on earth wants to fart about littering their garden path with chocolate raisins etc to pretend the reindeer pooped?
And while we’re on the subject, it’s chocolate.
I don’t know about you but in my world, CHOCOLATE IS SACRED.
For the love of chestnuts, why on earth would you waste chocolate by throwing it on the ground making it inedible?
And you can’t even use the five second rule.
It’s a crime, I tell you.
2) Reindeer Food
I have to admit, I wasn’t even aware of this trend until one of my sisters did it a few years ago when we went back to the UK for Christmas.
I felt a little unsettled by the idea.
As if it’s not enough, kidding the kids (alliteration genius, me) into thinking reindeer actually turn up on Christmas Eve, now we’re going to turn things up a notch and let them think they also stop off outside the house and eat food?!
Shake your head at my ‘first-world-problems’-esque fussing. I put it to you, however, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that I have good cause for concern.
I mentally fast-fowarded a few years to my kids, all grown up, suing me for mental trauma caused by the earth-shattering discovery that it was ALL a con: the reindeer food, the fake poop…a total fraud of epic proportions!
NB. The year after, my sis sent me a packet of reindeer food for me to use outside my own house. It’s still sitting in the cupboard. I just couldn’t bring myself to use it (and yes, knowing my luck, this will be the one post my sister reads… sssshhhh).
3) Lighting the Pathway for Santa and Co.
A tad confused here, I confess.
Why light the pathway if Santa comes down the chimney?
Presumably it’s for those of us without chimneys (admittedly a lot of people)?
What if you live in a block of flats? Am I just inept? Again, don’t answer that.
4) Christmas Eve Boxes
Now, a good friend told me about this the other day (because yes… again I was unaware).
In case you don’t know what it is, it’s basically a box you fill with simple little goodies (pyjamas, a book, etc) to make the night before Christmas magical.
You can wrap the box to add to the excitement factor. There are loads of Pinterest pictures apparently with suggestions of what to put in your Christmas Eve box.
But honestly? It’s just one more thing in addition to all the other things!
In principle, I sort of like it but I’m sorry, I won’t give them a Christmas Eve box and a stocking and presents from Santa and… Enough already!
5) Letting the Kids Think That All the Gifts Are From Santa
Okay, here’s my big confession. I had no idea all these years that most of my friends tell their kids the presents are all from Santa.
My parents didn’t do this. We were very aware that they worked their tail end off in their shop every day of the year and it was their hard-earned money that bought the presents.
It’s important for me that my kids know money doesn’t just fall from the sky and that they appreciate the value of things.
Not to mention, that they have an understanding that family and friends spent time and energy on getting them nice things.
Worry not. We don’t guilt trip them and make them feel like shite.
I just have an issue with them thinking all the gifts are from the rotund guy in the red suit.
6) Wrapping Santa’s Gift in Different Paper
Now, this one I do get! I GET! In fact, it’s actually geniius! I had no idea people were doing this either (honestly…I’m blushing).
I can wrap the gifts in the different paper. No probs.
I can do a little tag from Santa. No prob.
But the whole concept just unravels after that…
Can I remember to alter my handwriting so it’s not the same as on the other tags?
Can I remember in days to come (actually even minutes after they’ve unwrapped them) which gifts were from Santa?
Can I keep my mouth shut and not gaff?
I have messed up time and time again regaling them excitedly about where I found that gift, how I had a sneaky feeling they wanted it, blah blah. The same with the stockings.
Heaven help me.
Last but not least, the first class, irritating, utterly unnecessary monumental humdinger of them all:
7) The Elf on the Freakin’ Shelf
Why? Just why?
And more importantly WHO?! Who is the idiot that thought this freak show up?
I see all these social media posts (and of course blogs) by parents moaning about how they’ve got to find ingenuous places to hide it for the whole run up to Christmas and oh the stress, yada yada.
Little tip for ya: just don’t buy a damned elf in the first place, then you haven’t got a problem! That’s the ingenuous bit.
So this Christmas, as I usually do, I will savour the simplest ‘traditions’:
Glasses of festive cheer, mince pies, seeing the kids open their gifts, snuggling up for Christmas movies including Elf for the tenth time (because let’s face Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy doesn’t have a thing on his Buddy the elf), beating Hubster to the last bit of cranberry paté and… taking a break from the blog!
The only ‘new’ tradition will be Spotifying the Michael Bublé Christmas album (don’t laugh… it happens to the best of us and my Christmas classic CD’s are about 20 years old so that’s my excuse).
Merry Christmas everyone!
Cover photo © Office Christmas Party