December 24, 2016

Surviving Christmas.

Christmas… that special time of year meant to bring friends and families together but which ultimately tires out even the most resilient of us. It’s not easy coming up to the holiday season, it seems that with each passing year the festivities are creeping up on us earlier and earlier.

Thanksgiving barely has passed that we are already looking at a jam packed calendar with more dinners and drinks than stuffed turkeys approaching the slaughter house. Along with all these busy schedules it seems that the need to please has been amped up with steroids. Giving isn’t enough anymore, you have to be more thoughtful, more caring and more conscientious. Not surprisingly between all these different demands, we barely have time for ourselves and so as each day of the advent calendar rolls by (because trust me after enough Christmas parties you will be rolling), you’re left feeling sluggish, highly irritable and tired. Doesn’t that sound appealing?

Like a lot of us, I struggle throughout the year to make enough time for the myriad of things I want to accomplish each day. It therefore seems unusually cruel punishment that as the end of the year looms, time decides to switch gear and starts moving at warp speed, barely giving me enough time to get anything done. And, with the promise of a new year, there’s this desire to get everything organised and sorted before the big ball drop. Offices want to close accounts, wrap up projects in neat little piles ready to start the new year on a fresh note. Friends and colleagues want to get together before the family gathers for a end of year catch up. It seems that everyone has an agenda and as we all struggle to keep up, the fact that the holidays are looming ahead does nothing much to help our motivation. They say productivity in the workplace tends to plateau in the lead up to Christmas. This is most likely due to the fact that people are exhausted from all the parties, from all the crowds and from the entire year. I sure as hell don’t blame them. What’s more, you’re so busy running to the store before it closes to get that perfect gift, that you’ve barely had time to realise that you’ve doubled your usual steps for the day (thank you fitbit) and you haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast. You walk into the shop, realise you’re starved and before you know it you’ve inhaled half the display of chocolates. Death by Ferrero Rocher is a thing, I don’t care what people say about everything in small quantities, there is seriously no way in hell you can simply eat one. And if you’re at a company party having to make small talk, feel free to use this as an icebreaker, you’d be amazed how many people can talk about chocolate when pressed for other conversation starters.

I have to admit that December has become one of those months which I train for, somewhat like a marathon. Christmas is no 500 metre sprint, in fact it’s more in tune with a mud race… you have got to run the entire course, make it through the obstacles, get yourself dirty and exhausted but in the end crossing that finish line you wouldn’t change any of it. When I think of the holidays, sure there’s a thousand different reasons I love this time of year, but it’s one that tests my patience and resilience. Case in point, attempting to go out Christmas shopping with the crowds, the people, the chaos, it’s like asking a man to go furniture shopping at Ikea – painful and unpleasant. As a rule of thumb, I make a list of what I need to get and then undoubtedly veer off course as soon as I step into any store. I’m a big believer in giving over the holiday season, so I get myself pretty amped up on finding the perfect gift. Thankfully, internet shopping has made things a little easier allowing us to make our purchases from the comfort of our own homes, sadly for me, I don’t do internet shopping for Christmas. With all the events and compromises, I tend to log online to realise I’ve passed the date for on-time delivery so I’m left with one choice… brave the crowds the old fashioned way. With determination and your best bitch face, because trust me on this, you have to look tough to not be smacked by passing bags full of gifts. Imagine getting hit by a giant bag filled with beautiful cashmere sweaters, not so bad, now picture the same scenario and a woman briskly walking past you and knocking your legs with her shopping bag carrying a classic Le Creuset cocotte, definitely LESS fun.

I have to say as an adult, I now look at past Christmases with a longing that goes beyond nostalgia. Back then, my parents did everything and I, as a child, felt like the days leading up to Santa’s visit were a continuous party. I didn’t have to go to school, I got to eat candy, there was cookie baking, the decoration of the Christmas tree and so much more. But the fact of the matter, and the reason for my longing for those days was that I had no responsibility other than enjoying the festivities. I was but a mere bystander getting to revel in the hard work of my parents, whereas nowadays I have to get involved. Not so much that it’s expected but I want to be a part of it. Oh to be young and carefree. Why do I need to learn how to stuff a turkey? All jokes aside, no amount of wine will make me feel more at ease with the prospect of stuffing a bird. Despite the fact that it’s probably one of my favorites meats of all time, there are certain things you don’t need to witness. How people make sausages AND how you stuff a turkey in my opinion.

But whilst growing up has it drawbacks, namely being an active member of the Christmas preparation, there is one big upside and that’s being able to sit back after a long day, enjoying a glass of wine as you revel in all the memories shared this year. I’m not pushing for alcohol consumption, but I have to say that a glass of wine does go a long way to curing the stress of the holiday season. Let’s be honest, some days require the entire bottle but who am I to judge right? And as I stare at this article which as usual in this season, is way behind schedule, I cut myself a break because trust me, at Christmas…. something is always bound to go wrong. Your best defense is to simply accept this as inevitable and remember that despite burnt cookies, a dry turkey or even a surprise visit from your in-laws, Santa knows your address. On that note, HO HO HO Merry Christmas to all.







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