14 days to go till end of year. 9 trading days to be precise. 3 days of work left for me. Last real weekend finished. It is funny how at this time of the year we start talking about the ‘last time this year’ or ‘next year…’. The clock seems to go faster. It’s Christmas. Time seems even more constrained. But why? Why do we make a happy time so full of anything but joy?
Holidays can always increase levels of stress at work or home. That is the case for any holiday period in the year. We are most likely over-worked before we go, trying to get ‘everything done’. And most likely quickly lose the holiday feeling when we come back, as we get overwhelmed by unread emails or meetings we missed (really, over Christmas?). I have argued before a few strategies to manage this, so check it out if you are suffering from an ‘I have to get it all done feeling’.
Also, try and remember that this is the time of the year where almost everyone goes on holiday, even many people not celebrating Christmas but using this opportunity to spend time with family. Chances are clients will be away too. The most that you can think of doing with this time is to reflect.
The School Term
Let’s face it, school does not help. We just came out of half term and the calendar gets filled with Parent Teachers Evenings, Street Dance Performance, Ballet show, Nativity Play, Carols. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to be there for my children’s school events. I would love to know more of what they do in school every day. But 2 pm for a school play does pose a challenge. 2 Tuesdays in a row. Before year end. I know all parents have different ideal times, but I admit I struggle to believe middle of the day really fits anyone.
So I accumulate events together with Doctor appointments invariably a day apart and try and not to forget any of the secret Santa gift the schools are asking me for. At least this year Little Girl C did her 30 Christmas Cards absolutely independently. Kudos to her. She has done 30 more than me…
The Calendar Year
This one is a killer. I must admit it is top on my list of bad friends. 13 days to go. Where are all the things I wanted to achieve this year? Where are all those goals of mine? What small wins can I still have?
The end of year is daunting.
Indeed I have started working on a bunch of end of year topics (mostly in my head, which means nothing at this point because I may forget it tomorrow). What I learnt in 2020. What my favorite book was. My gratitude for 2019. Goals for 2020. My word of the year for 2020. And so much more. Do vote for your favorite, otherwise I will be working on it until the summer.
Yes, I am putting Christmas on the naughty list. But we all know how it can so easily get there. This year, Christmas started early for me. On the weekend of the 23rd November, we went with the family to watch Stickman and onto the Sloane Square switch on off the lights. After Santa shook hands with the children we took the atmosphere to go get our Christmas tree. Never done before the 1st December.
Can you tell how desperate I was for Christmas?
But then that was it. I missed the Black Friday deals as impulse to get my shopping done, and suddenly December crept in. The roller coaster 3 weeks that ensued represented everything that Christmas is not meant to be – I have no gifts, I will have no time, I have so much I need to get done, look at what I did not do. And I am back to my unhappy self.
The Fulham Palace Santa (and finishing my life in the UK test) brought me back to the spirit of Christmas. He had no rush while we were there and chatted as if they were the only children in the world. And the kids completely bought into it. I don’t even sell Santa much, I don’t love it. But that was special. So I made my way back to thinking of the good part – making people happy.
Going back home
For many of us Londoners, Christmas is spent abroad. It means packing, airports, potential for lost luggage, potential for too much luggage, carrying the gifts (if you were lucky to have done any shopping) into already cramped bags. Alternatively, paying Amazon to do that for you for a fee. Asap really.
It also means running around when there, making the house livable, fitting in friends who also luckily happen to be on holiday but are also dedicated to family and errands. And always feeling like time is too short.
In the last few years, I found that no matter how long we would go for, it just flies by. Because there are so many odd holidays and preset events, together with the errands you need to do ahead of the 25th, that half of the time is cut-off by all this frenzy. And then if you book yourself to go almost 3 weeks, chances are you think you are going to have time for everything and you end up procrastinating on the efficiency required for an emigrant maintaining solid relationships in their home country. Believe me, I would know, after 15 years in London, going on 16.
When is Christmas starting then?
Christmas is unfortunately only on the 24th and 25th. People like to say, “Christmas is when men choose”. In reality it is not. And may be it can be another 11 months of the year. But when you get into December and are hit by the rush of the holiday period, the clock does not stop until the 24th. That’s when it all starts to happen and magically happen slowly. That’s when your to-do list does not matter as it is not done anyway. That’s when all that you have done will feel so much better.
Personally, I am looking forward to Christmas Eve. I feel like that will be the first time I will get to breathe in a few months. This quarter was filled with challenges, and I will be glad to stem the flow with a 2 day hiatus to just BE. And celebrate Christmas.
This is a time of the year where commitments start to come out. So here is mine for the Christmas period:
- I will only buy gifts for the joy of gifting them to people
- I will trim down by to-do list to the bare minimum from next Friday
- I will not beat myself up for the multiple failures I know are coming in the next few days
- I will make a sleep a priority for my holiday
- I will continue my focus on being and meaningful interactions
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