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I know, I know, it’s the 25th November. I can’t believe I’m already talking to you about Christmas, either. But the lights in my street have already come on, shops are playing the same 20 songs on repeat, and it’s exactly one month until Christmas Day. Silly season is officially upon us and it’s here to stay until January, when we’re all going to emerge bleary-eyed, faintly hungover from mulled wine, and googling the cheapest gym memberships or announcing on social media that we’re going to do Dry January or Veganuary or some other made-up fad we need to cling to get us through the first month of a brand-new decade.
If you’re celebrating a holiday at this time of year (or even if you’re just celebrating the fact that you’re gonna get a few days off in the bleak midwinter) there’s a lot of pressure to have the best time ever. More than birthdays, more than Valentine’s Day, more than Halloween, the Christmas period is imbued with so much inherited nostalgia and mandatory sentimentality that every tiny decision – who you’re spending those days with, who has to give up their bedroom for Granny, how many roast potatoes is too many roast potatoes (none, nada, the limit does not exist) – feels like it could make or break the holiday for everyone.
One year my mum had simply just had enough of the fraught debate over where to spend Christmas and with whom that she dramatically announced she’d be sacking the whole thing off and going to Dubai until the whole thing was over. She’d never wanted to go to Dubai before – or since, for that matter – but this time of year does that sort of thing to people. Makes us go a bit nutty, want to run away from everyone who’s expecting anything of us, and at the very least makes us wonder if all the hassle and stress is really worth it. You might start to feel like you’d rather just treat December like any other month of the year and not be expected to wrap up all your work projects, take a huge chunk of time off, or reinvent yourself with the New Year.
All of this to say, if you’re struggling a bit with the looming holiday season and all of it’s expectations and obligations, you’re not alone. So how can we get through it with our marbles and fragile feelings intact?
My emotions are all over the place
Situational factors can have a huge effect on our hormones which, in turn, impact things such as our mood, skin, and even digestion. If you’re feeling the stress, I can’t recommend CBD enough. CBD is an adaptogen, meaning it is capable of supporting your adrenal system to balance your hormones and help manage your stress levels. It can help speed up or slow down the release of certain hormones, such as the stress hormone, cortisol. CBD has got your back when it comes to remaining calm and feeling balanced throughout this turbulent season. For ultimate chill, pop a few drops of holy cramp in a bubble bath – the essential oils will not only make it smell amazing but will also help calm you down and centre you.
We always end up arguing about the cooking
Decide beforehand who’s going to cook. I mean days beforehand. If you can, appoint a ‘head-chef’ and a couple of helpers (who must do what they’re told like good little elves). It’s everyone else’s job to keep out of the kitchen. One Christmas, it was my job to keep my whole family out of the kitchen while my mum and dad did all the cooking by themselves. It might sound unfair, but it was the calmest Christmas we’d ever had (and no one argued about how to cook the potatoes).
The caveat to this is that the people who don’t cook must then agree to be content with however the food gets made. No ‘oh my family always roasts the potatoes in goose fat’ comments to your in-laws, please. You all need to effusively love everything you eat and you have to offer to wash up. Them’s the rules.
My family/partner’s family drive me up the wall
This one is nearly impossible to avoid, so you’re simply going to have to find ways to grin and bear it. If it’s an option to drive there and back in one day, do it. It might seem like a waste of precious Christmas Day hours when you’re planning it now, but you’ll thank yourself when the time comes when you can go home, curl up in your own bed, and chill out a bit. If you can’t do this, it’s essential that you schedule ‘me time’, especially if you’re staying with family or in-laws for several days. Any time you can slip away for five minutes, take long, deep breaths (it sounds silly but it really does help to ground you and calm any rising feelings of anxiety or irritation). Offer to be on kid duty or take the dog for a walk. Suggest a post-dinner stroll – you’ll probably get a few family members tagging along, but in my experience most people will want to veg out on the sofa so you’ll at least get some reprise from the whole clan. And remember, when in doubt, CBD, CBD, CBD.
I never like the gifts I’m given
This one is easy. Fake it. You love it. Thank you so much, Auntie Sally. No, I don’t care if you’ve recently become zero waste, if you’re a minimalist, if you’ve asked for donations to your favourite charity and are upset your granny doesn’t ‘get it’ yet and would rather give you a cat ornament. Shut up and take the gift. You can try your best to explain to your family in the run-up to Christmas why you genuinely don’t want gifts, but it’ll take some people a while to understand that you mean it/why you feel that way. If it makes your grandma happy to gift you something you’d have loved when you were ten, let her. Unless it’s genuinely offensive in some way, you can spare their feelings and donate it to charity later.
Brexit! Racist uncles! Shouting over the gravy bowl!
Aaaaargh. We all know these family gatherings are a minefield when it comes to heavy political, religious, or moral discussions. There’s no surefire way to answer this, because I’m never going to be the kind of person who tells you to just smile and nod if your great-uncle is spouting some racist or homophobic nonsense; but if your primary goal is to keep the peace, if only for everyone else’s sake, then there are a few things you can do when someone starts trying to debate Brexit with you – without compromising your morals.
The easiest thing you can do is usually the best thing: just pretend you haven’t heard. If the room is busy and if they’re not talking directly and only to you, just walk away. You need the loo, you’re going to see if mum needs help with the sprouts, you’re going to top up everyone’s drinks. If you’re all sat around the dinner table when it happens, loudly ask someone to pass the yorkies, then introduce a new topic. Suggestions include: how wonderful the food is, whether you fancy watching the Queen’s speech this year, or what time the Doctor Who Special or Harry Potter marathon is on. If you can, move around, so you’re creating a visual distraction as well as a verbal one. This is for the benefit of other people who might also be upset by unsavoury or offensive comments. Stand up to reach across the table for something, go around topping up drinks or offering glasses of water, and, if in dire straits, jump up and anxiously announce you think someone’s left the oven on. You might look like a fool, but at least you’ve helped everyone avoid an argument. And that’s the true spirit of Christmas, after all: looking and acting a bit silly, drinking a lot of mulled wine regardless of whether you even like it much, and avoiding arguments. Happy holidays, ohne babes!