Jo Seagar breaks with convention and decides to celebrate the season in a simplified, stress-free way that suits her and her loved ones.
celebrate your way
After decades of Yuletide madness I’ve decided to take advice from the movie Frozen… and just “let it go”. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not ditching Christmas, but rather I’m giving myself permission to make it easy on myself.
It’s all the stress and associated guilt I’m ditching and we’re going to have a lovely, simple, meaningful festive season where smiles and happiness will be the order of the day. Well, that’s the plan anyway.
I’ve finally figured out that it’s you who gets to choose the kind of Christmas that’s right for you and your family. There is no need to buy into all the frenzy and hype if you don’t want to. It’s not an exam, with marks out of 10 for perfection.
Decorate the house the way you want to – not every decoration you’ve ever bought needs to hang on the tree, and the tree itself can be a tasteful cut branch of silver birch or even a piece of driftwood. Nothing terrible will happen if you opt for a small artificial one – it doesn’t have to be the tallest pine in the forest or one that looks as if it should be gracing the cover of a brochure about Norway.
Table settings can be simple. I’m thinking jam jars with sprigs from the conifer hedge and maybe a red ribbon or two placed in a line down the centre of the table.
I won’t be hand-stencilling all the wrapping paper this year and, no, I’m not sending any Christmas cards either. Oh well, okay, perhaps just a few to the darling oldies on my list – they really are the only generation now that truly appreciates cards sent in the mail… actually, I’d better send those soon, as I think postal services have been cut back rather dramatically.
Make the food your family loves to eat. It doesn’t matter if the festive feast is wiener schnitzel or fried chicken, and strawberries and ice-cream really is everybody’s favourite pud in my household.
Don’t feel any guilt for taking lots of short cuts and not making everything from scratch. If a turkey and ye olde plum duff isn’t your thing, then ditch that menu by all means. There are a few essential, wouldn’tbe-Christmas-without-them items on my list that will have to stay, including mince pies, but this year I’m cheating outrageously… My sneaky trick is store-bought mince pies, but I carefully prise open the lids to give them a little top-up injection of brandy butter flavoured with finely grated orange zest. Then I’ll cover my tracks with a generous dusting of icing sugar – it works a treat and I’m sure there will be requests for the recipe!
I think there are so many negative sides to giving children everything they want on their “Dear Santa” lists. What does this teach young ones but how to be self-centred and greedy? No one will miss out, but present-buying will be highly refined this year. I’m letting all the friends and extended family on the list know early on about this plan. That way, we’ll avoid any embarrassment caused by overladen gift-bearing visitors and there’ll be no disappointing surprises for the cast of characters around the dinner table. The children won’t miss out, but the credit card won’t have a huge blowout either.
Funny stories, jokes and happy reminiscing will carry on as usual, as will our joy in the fellowship of loved ones. I won’t be standing over a hot stove flambéeing the Yuletide goose or handsugaring violet petals, so this will free me up somewhat to revive the rich tradition of Christmas storytelling and orchestrate a bit of a singalong around the piano.
Remember, be flexible and laugh off any Yuletide meltdowns – peace and goodwill to fellow man shall reign. The Christmas dinner where everything went a bit haywire is more likely to be fondly remembered than the one where nothing untoward happened and it all went smoothly to plan.
We will still have a Christmas cake, because everyone loves it at my house, and there will be toasts to absent friends and nana naps in the afternoon – some things we simply cannot change.
To you all, dear readers, I wish lots of laughter, hugs, conversation and happy connections. This is the true spirit of the Christmas season.
“Don’t feel any guilt for taking lots of short cuts and not making everything from scratch. ”