Is it just me or does Christmas Day feel like a bit of an anti-climax? For weeks we have been fretting, planning, cooking, cleaning, chopping, wrapping, flapping and then all of a sudden it’s all over. Done. Finished.
Huge effort has been put in to ensure that everything is festive and perfect, so it should be no surprise that come December 25th we are exhausted, tired and a little emotional as the days previously filled with excitement and expectation make way for a post-Christmas comedown.
The build-up for the festive season starts in October as yuletide merch starts to appear in our shops. In November the big Xmas TV adverts start with Aldi and Amazon both dropping theirs less than 4 days into the month in 2020. The dedicated Christmas music radio stations were full of jingle bells and ho-ho-hos on DAB on Halloween. Pressure is being put on us everywhere we turn to get our festive planning groove on.
Add to that the shopping, cooking, cleaning, card writing and gift wrapping frenzy, is it any wonder than by Christmas Day afternoon we sit back and think, why? Why do we get in such a state over a roast dinner with fairy lights? Why do we have to make everything perfect? Why do we put ourselves under so much pressure to create a perfect Christmas? Why do we do this to ourselves?
Personally, I prefer Christmas Eve and enjoy it far more than Christmas Day. There is still so much to look forward to and the majority of the hard work is done. Friends and family are full of Christmas cheer; the excitement and anticipation brings out the child in us all, to the point where we still get excited about those gifts under the tree.
Christmas gloom can often set in as presents are being opened. As a child, everything is fabulous and you rip off wrappings with glee but as an adult, it’s different. After taking great care to select thoughtful gifts and wrap them beautifully, you can often receive a gift that is utterly thoughtless. If you are opening these gifts in front of friends or family, you feel obliged to sit there with a polite face in order to keep the day pleasant for everyone.
Another tricky area is food and drink. You will have spent the majority of your free time in December, planning all the festive food, nibbles and drinks for everyone to enjoy, often pushing the boat out and sometimes overspending in an attempt to make it all extra special. However, each year the same old culprits will arrive empty handed, treating your home as a pitstop on their evening as they appear like Christmas magpies. You know they will be clutching a bottle of something you wouldn’t want to clean your drains with, pushing it to one side untouched as they consume the contents of your cupboard and drinks cabinet.
So there you are, tired, emotional and pissed off that yet again your kindness and hospitality has been abused, teeth firmly gritted because you want to ensure everyone has a great time. Desperately trying to keep your Christmas spirit, particularly as you are getting older and less inclined to make the effort, you’ll soldier on, but once the big dinner is done and dusted it hits you. The Christmas Day anti-climax.
Small talk, snoring guests, nothing but toffees and coffee creams left in the box of chocolates you were looking forward to, and there it is, all done for another year. You are left feeling as cheerful as the crumpled wrapping paper that now lies sparkling in the dustbin. Even the Christmas music is starting to get on your tits.
The Christmas tree is now looking a little bare with no gifts stacked up beneath the branches. It even starts to feel like it’s in the way, especially if you put it up at the start of December. You haven’t been able to clean that part of the room properly for weeks now. And those unwrapped gifts? They sit quietly in a pile waiting for you to work out where the hell you are going to put them, while quietly in your mind you try to work out which charity shops you can take some of them to, and which ones you can regift later in the year (we’ve all done it!).
If this situation is sounding horribly depressing and embarrassingly familiar, let us help you. Here are our tips to help you combat the Christmas comedown and keep the magic alive a little longer:
- Don’t peak too soon! Try and pace yourself, especially if you have children. Instead of cracking open the booze at 6am and opening all the gifts before breakfast, give yourself a plan for the day. Nothing too regimented – let’s not be too hasty here! But maybe open only one gift before breakfast? Or save some until the evening? Try and avoid the ugly combination of preparing the veg amongst flurries of wrapping paper while you are halfway through a bottle of Baileys.
- Plan ahead and prepare in advance. Consider preparing the veg and setting the table on Christmas Eve before you go to bed. If you can, prepare food in advance – homemade bread sauce and stuffing freezes really well and can be made a few weeks in advance. Also, wrap a couple of spare gifts in case a visitor catches you unaware.
- Make some time for you. Encourage young ones to recharge their batteries and have a nap. Get the older kids to watch a film or play a board game. Then, while all is calm, grab some time to put your feet up. Baileys, anyone?
- Keep some surprises. Persuade a friend to pop round in a Father Christmas costume with some extra gifts. Surprise the family with a Zoom call from someone special that’s far away. Keeping something under your hat to schedule in later in the day ensures that magic lasts just a little bit longer.
- Remember to have some fun. Many of us arrive at Christmas Day already exhausted and on a short fuse. When others are being difficult, rise about it. If things don’t go to plan and you feel your perfect Christmas slipping away, remember that all those plan were just in your head – everyone else has no idea what you were planning to do and they’ll be none the wiser. Laugh, don’t stress and just go with the flow.
- Let go of perfectionism. Lower the bar, don’t be afraid to cut corners and ask for help when you need it. And those perfect photos of Christmas you see on Instagram? They are not real. Behind every one of them is hours of careful staging and a frazzled person pretending they are having the best Christmas ever. Don’t waste precious moments staring at your phone or retaking endless photos.
It’s inevitable that this time of year can lead to a post Christmas anti-climax, or even a feeling of emotional emptiness, especially if you have been busy in the build up for weeks, or even months. Try and remember what Christmas is actually about, take things easy, give yourself a fighting chance by lowering those expectations and you’ll make it through the day in one piece.
Stop wasting precious time designing the Christmas you think you should have and instead enjoy the one you can have.