It’s that time of year again.
I know, for many, it’s not. In the words of my own mother, Christmas day is tantamount to getting a root canal without anesthetic. So, she’s not a fan.
I have for so long been bewildered by how people could find a holiday intended to be filled with such joy, love and celebration, a burden.
My naive, little Christmas self hasn’t been able to quite understand how Christmas was something to dread rather than literally count down the days for.
But, I’ve started to realise why my mum and I’m sure many other people out there, have leaned towards the “root canal without anesthetic” option over Christmas.
I’ve realised that we’re obsessed with constructing The Perfect Christmas.
The Perfect Christmas that includes cooking the most extravagant lunch, spending the day with relatives we only really know from last Christmas, just trying to satisfy these fantastical and traditional means of enjoying Christmas.
My mum, over the years, has become hooked on building our family this fantasy Christmas. A Christmas that we’ve never asked for, but she thought was mandatory.
LISTEN: Jody Allen shares her tips for feeding a family on a $50 budget at Christmas, on our podcast for imperfect parents. Post continues after audio.
I remember in 2011, Christmas was at our place.
I remember that for the month of December her stress levels hit such extreme heights I hadn’t seen before. And, trust me, that meant bad things. She stood in the kitchen sweating for days in the summer heat making fruit mince pies and fruit mince shortbread, Christmas pudding, and Christmas cake.
She still bought a ham and cooked a roast turkey, even though she doesn’t understand why someone would eat a hot roast in summer.
She cooked a banquet of food she didn’t like but somewhere along the lines she was brainwashed to believe one must serve these types of food because… Christmas?
I remember how thoroughly she cleaned the house days before the entourage of family members arrived, and stressed about whether the rest of the family would like all the wonderful gifts she had so carefully bought them.
I remember how she decorated the house in beautiful Christmas spirit and on the Big Day really tried to placate all the family members who still hadn’t gotten over their fights from last year’s Christmas.
She worked so hard to create picture perfect moments, and then snap them with her camera as some sort of evidence of what she had made. In pictures, it does look perfect.
But, behind all the pictures, I can still feel how stressed she was, and how on Christmas Day she didn’t enjoy herself because she worked tirelessly to ensure other people were enjoying it. Whilst everyone else either sat back and relaxed or pretended to be friends, she was off busying herself with The Perfect Christmas.
In all honestly, the best moment of the 2011 Christmas was probably the most un-perfect moment of all.
It was when her dad drank what he thought was orange juice, but was in fact the secret orange juice cocktail mum had created herself (there was no other way she was going to survive that day).
It was really no wonder at all that by the end of the day he was completely wasted.
That moment was my favourite – the moment that was unplanned, completely un-perfect, but I remember how much mum laughed and thought it was completely hilarious that such a “teetotaller” like her father would end up so drunk on Christmas Day.
Have a scroll through everything we don’t have to do to enjoy Christmas. (Post continues after gallery.)
I know I’m taking a long time to say it, but here goes:
This Christmas, I’m asking my mum and everyone else hooked on the idea of The Perfect Christmas: please just stop.
Please just stop trying to please everyone.
Please just stop trying to create a perfect Christmas, because an authentic, real Christmas is where the true joy lies.
Please make the food you actually like to eat and stop worrying if other people don’t like it.
Please care about how you are enjoying the day and not making sure that the cranky aunt you only see once a year doesn’t yell at someone. I would recommend to prepare some “orange juice” beforehand, and I’m sure if she has a glass she’ll calm down.
The Perfect Christmas for others, doesn’t have to be The Perfect Christmas for you. Be present for it. It doesn’t have to be the roast turkey, a gathering of all the family in the world, or a house that has been decorated to look like it has come from the North Pole. If that’s what you want, go for you life. But, it really doesn’t have to be.
For all those who have spent too many years dreading Christmas because they have been attempting to please others, maybe make this year just for you.
That’s all I’m asking.