Blue Christmas

Is it possible to be ‘over’ Christmas? Have the songs that have been your seasonal soundtrack since the 70s turned stale? Does the prospect of evening after evening of festivities leave a bad taste in your mouth? Has your tree lost its twinkle?

This was me about four years ago. After nearly 40 years of riding the Christmas wave of tinsel and tequila I was done.

In the beginning, December had been the most exciting month imaginable – the multicoloured lights, old-fashioned glass ornaments and plastic sacks at my Nan and Grandad’s embodying a truly magical time of year.

Later came the tradition of hitting the pub with school friends on Christmas Eve – still going to bed buzzing at the thought of what was waiting under the tree.

And then children of our own – a chance to pick the best bits of our own childhoods and try out new twists.

So why was I just not feeling it?

The music

Seriously, why are there no new good Christmas songs? Since Mariah’s glorious All I Want for Christmas in the 90s, the best of the modern offerings is Bob Dylan’s Must be Santa and Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath the Tree.

The solution: I propose that, next year, shops and radio stations are only allowed to play post-2010 tunes – a chance for songwriters and artists to create a classic! But if that doesn’t happen, try introducing a bit of jeopardy to the Big Day build-up by playing Whamageddon.

The food

We’ve jazzed it up with Jamie’s gravy and Nigella’s goose fat, but Christmas dinner is still fundamentally a Sunday roast with extra leftovers. The expense! The hassle! Is it worth it?

The solution: Ditch the bird. Yes, you heard me. Take a year off setting the alarm for 6am to prep the turkey and treat yourself to your very favourite food instead. Even if you’re vegetarian or vegan, the world is your Ottolenghi.

The pressure

Not only are there presents to buy and cards to write, we decorate our homes, have a Christmas jumper on standby, contribute to the teacher’s present collection, go to the office party and countless other nights out, and everything else. It’s a drain on our time, energy and pockets.

The solution: You can say you hate Christmas, and not engage with any of this, like Kyle recalls doing in his blog for the mental health charity Mind. But you might not need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Just saying no more and being honest about how some aspects of how Christmas make you feel can bring some of the joy back.

The reflection

The older we get, the more quickly the year rushes by. Christmas can be a reminder that we’ve nearly run out of time to follow through on our New Year’s resolutions. Have I ticked them all off? The answer is probably no.

The solution: Forget the plans you made at the start of the year – they’re old news. Think instead about what you’ve actually achieved instead. The new friends made, the things you’ve learnt through failure and success, the progress you’ve made towards filling your life with what’s important.

This Christmas, celebrate as little or as much as you like, and in your own way. Embrace the traditions or kick them into the fireplace. And if you don’t do Christmas at all, just enjoy the break if you’re getting one. 

But if it does get too much, there are lots of tools and people you can talk to, and hopefully it won’t be long before the springtime flowers are poking their way out of the ground.

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