Sunday, 29 November 2015
Unplugging the Christmas Machine
Twelve years ago I purchased the above book. Put simply, it changed everything for me. On the outside it looked like I had the perfect life. We lived in a beautiful 5 bedroomed house that had been expensively interior decorated from top to bottom (it was the ex show house on a small exclusive estate), we drove 2 new cars (a 4x4 and a sports car), we had a holiday house on the isle of Arran, we had an extensive social life of entertaining and being entertained. But I wasn't satisfied with it. I was living the life that I had aspired to since I got married at 20 and yet I wasn't happy with it.
It was a few months before Christmas when we were planning our festive season, trying to 'co-ordinate our diaries' with family and friends to make sure we had lots of 'fun activities' planned. I was bored of the usual round of drinks parties and full on dinners with people that I only saw once a year. People who were 'useful' to my ex's career. People who weren't really interested in who I was or what I thought or anything I did.
I was browsing online for alternative Christmas ideas and this book popped up. Like I said, it changed everything. Definitely recommend it if you're caught in a Christmas maelstrom. We dropped out of the social whirl and just had a simple Christmas. A few months later we took the huge leap of buying an old house with some land in the Perthshire countryside and set out with the intention of leading a much simpler life. I loved it and embraced it but the ex didn't. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!!
But back to Christmas. Over the last 10 years or so it has gradually become a much quieter affair and I like it that way. In fact I'd be quite happy to skip it altogether but my 3 boys still like to celebrate so I go along with it. But on my terms. I refuse to go shopping in an actual store, preferring to buy any gifts needed online. I make a lot of edible gifts and I craft some too. Sadly not as many as I used to as I just don't have the time atm.
All the young people (my kids, his kids, my nephews and niece, ages 28 to 14) all get money. It would be lovely to be able to buy them an actual gift but I'd rather they were able to buy whatever they wanted themselves than buy a gift that lies unused in a cupboard or drawer. Sad but true.
The older generation (parents, aunts, uncles) usually get something edible. We've all agreed that we don't actually need or want material things so everyone's happy. I don't spend a lot of money but I do spend time and effort sourcing nice jars/bottles/baskets etc that can all be recycled or repurposed. Sometimes I even get them back to refill!
I've kept very few traditions from when we were a 'family' preferring to start new ones instead and deliberately doing something different each year. This is the third Christmas in my own wee house and already I know there will be a different routine this year. The Teenager will be working on Christmas day, my middle son will be at his dad's and my eldest has chosen to spend it in his own flat. And that's all fine with me. I'll be at OH's house making new traditions.
Nothing is perfect but at least I can say I'm happy with my life. I have a Christmas on MY terms and not some commercialised version big companies tell me to have.