Thursday, 20 December 2012

A simple Christmas

Let's take advantage of all this austerity to have a simpler Christmas.  I know we are lucky to live in the country but you can have a simple Christmas anywhere.


Let's start with Christmas cards.  I don't know anyone who really likes writing Christmas cards but I know loads who like receiving them.  But sending cards to people you see every day doesn't seem worthwhile to me - all those trees that go into cards!  Save the cards for those who really appreciate them: the elderly aunt who lives by herself who would notice and care if she didn't get a card; the friends who live at the other end of the country whom you rarely see but really want to stay in touch with.  If you are only sending a quarter of the number of cards you usually send, you can afford to spend a few minutes writing something personal in each one, not a round robin of achievements and middle class boasting, but a personal note that means something to the recipient.  And share it out.  There is no hormonal cause for women to undertake the writing of cards or the buying of presents.  Make a list of everyone who should receive cards and presents and divide it between you so that you do "your" people and he does "his".  And that point you have to let it go.  If he doesn't send a card to his old university friends it's because it doesn't matter to him.  Let it be.  He is probably right that he will pick up where he left off next time he sees them and that neither he nor his friend will bother in the slightest about Christmas cards.  If he buys a dreadful present for his secretary that is his business not yours.  You might want to keep an eye on the odd emotionally loaded present like one for his mother, but for the rest,  do not try to delegate (and keep control), try to share.

I hate the whole business of women (and it is mainly women) whining about the stress of Christmas.  It is a feast, a festival, a holiday.  It needs good food, family and friends and people you love.  Don't spend too much and live with the financial hangover.  Make things or agree to spend a small amount on presents.  If a child wants something electronic and expensive, perhaps all the grandparents and aunts and uncles have to club together for it so that the child has a sense that there are choices to be made and limits to be observed.  I believe passionately that it is good for children not to have everything and that too much choice and consumerism makes restless, envious fools of us all.

So eat well.  Make an effort but don't stress yourself out.  It is only a big roast dinner after all and for us at any rate, it is the trimmings that make the Christmas dinner:  the stuffings and the pigs in blankets and the bread sauce.   We are lucky enough to have some friends who every year raise just a few turkeys, as free range as you like out and about with their hens.  We will have one of their turkeys again and they are fabulous but we have had everything from that to turkey crowns and one memorable Christmas when it was just Ian and me we had scallops and not a turkey in sight.  The important things to me are that the food should be plentiful and the meal should feel like an occasion with the best china and different wines and time taken.  You should get up from the table with a feeling of total satisfaction, not so stuffed that you can barely move but knowing you have feasted.

Walk with your family, talk with them, laugh with them.  Spend time with them.  Hide from them for a bit when you need to.  Relish the sense of a time of feasting and festival in the middle of a dark winter and wrap it round you as you go into January, waiting for snowdrops.

26 comments:

  1. I love what you've written and agree with every word of it. Have a special, peaceful Christmas with your family, Elizabeth

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    1. Thanks Molly. I am looking forward to it! and to you and yours too.

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  2. Very good suggestions! I think you've captured the spirit :-). A very Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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    1. I suppose all families work out their own priorities. For us, because we love food and cooking, it is mainly about the food! Merry Christmas!

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  3. Amen to that - it is the people around the table with you who matter the most. Have a wonderful Christmas.

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    1. Love the people round the table and having them home! And to you!

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  4. I feel like I have had a lecture. I'm exhausted now - mainly through practicing a Welsh accent, isn't it?

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    1. I probably should have kept to my resolution not to read my FIL's Daily Mail and then I wouldn't have gone off on one as a result of yet another article about Christmas stress! Sorry to exhaust you. Have a little lie down and a glass or two.

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  5. Hear hear! My approach is similar, and I try to consider all these potentially stressful "preparations" for Christmas as, rather, part of the season itself, a joyous part. Following your suggestions, it's possible to make the card-choosing and writing enjoyable -- something to savour in and of itself, rather than simply one more onerous task to get through. . .

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    1. I spent years running round, ticking things of my list and not able to take my own advice but I do try much harder now just to relax and enjoy the whole thing. I am all for having a good time whenever possible and it is amazing how much of whether you do or not is in your own head. For me, the more I ignore magazines telling me how to do it and shops trying to sell me things and just do the things I like with the people I love, the more I enjoy myself.

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  6. Well said. We will just be two here on Christmas morning and as I realise that nothing at all is expected from me apart from waking up and having tea under the tree I feel strangely elated.

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    1. That sounds as if it could be rather wonderful in its own way! Enjoy your time together. Elation sounds like a good Christmas feeling!

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  7. I find that you have said it all . . . perfectly. I found myself giving special attention to cards ths year. Personally, I love receiving a card in the mail . . . throughout the year, not only at Christmas. I found myself writing more personal notes and feeling less obligation to send, just to send. I wish you quiet . . . and a bit of merry . . . with peace.

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    1. Quiet and peace and bit of merry sounds perfect. I hope you have a lovely Christmas too.

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  8. Dear Elizabeth,

    That was simply perfect. How happy I am to say I wholeheartedly agree with you. No financial hangover here this year. My children may have no electronic gadgets but they want for nothing. There will be good wine, pheasant, good health, (I hope) and rosy, smiling faces. My brother is coming from Paris with his guitar which should make my guitar-playing son's day, I believe.

    Your header picture is stunning, Elizabeth.

    I wish you rosy, smiling faces too!

    Stephanie

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    1. I think we will do rosy, smiling faces Stephanie! Thank you. The combination of a glass of wine and the woodburning stove tends to bring out the rosiness in me! Have a great Christmas.

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  9. Good common sense - I am in full agreement - enjoy your simple Christmas

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  10. All true. I especially like your final sentence - can't wait to see those beautiful snowdrops again.

    Have a wonderful Christmas. Hope we can meet up in the New Year - it's a bit late for Christmas shopping in Chester now I think!

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  11. Today is the shortest day. The days will now to start to draw out. My snowdrops are just showing a little bit of white. Oh how I love the Spring and your blog makes me calm and look forward to it. Thank you and I hope you have a peaceful Christmas.

    Dianne - Herefordshire

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  12. I love Christmas cards and hope they never fall out of fashion. It is wonderful to hear from old friends, pick up snippets of news and decorate the house with them. As for doing it all, I worked out a long time ago that the person I am really doing all this for is, actually, me.
    Have a wonderful Christmas Elizabeth and look forward to reading your posts next year x

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  13. Hello Elizabeth, thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog this evening, because now I have found you too.
    I couldn't agree more with your sentiments on Christmas. This year in particular, being distracted with work on the house, we have pared back a lot. And what a relief it is too.
    Have a lovely Christmas, and I look forward to following you in the New Year.

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  14. Best wishes for your quiet and simpler Christmas!

    Lucy

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  15. Never a truer word spoken!

    If only I could persuade some of my family of at least some of what you've said my Christmases would be simple indeed.

    Have a wonderful (simple) time x

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  16. Excellent counsel which I will muse on as I frantically sew my way round a "last minute" Christmas present ...
    May you all have a wonderfully warm and Merry Christmas with everyone you love !

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  17. Well said oh wise one.
    Have a lovely Christmas.

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  18. Not a ba-a-a-ad idea! (Sorry, couldn't resist. Sheep picture got to me.)

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