It’s been a good year for our family, despite everything, and that’s mainly been down to the birth of our daughter. (Those of you who’ve read one of my blogs before will know our story already; it’s safe to say that we’ve had a tough couple of years before this one). I say despite everything, because alongside our rainbow baby, we’ve had to contend with managing financially – not least because my husband was made redundant the week before our daughter was delivered.
I bravely declared at the time that I didn’t care about anything else except getting her here safely, but now, with Christmas looming large, one salary coming in and her turning one next month, the other worries have inevitably started to creep back in.
It’s always been a running joke with me that you can’t put up your decs or mention the ‘c’ word until 1st December; especially as these days you’re seeing selection boxes in supermarkets by September, but actually there’s more serious reasoning behind it. You see, I’ve already had one (unsuccessful) attempt at returning to salaried work from maternity leave this year and suffice to say it didn’t work out. And in a flurry of panicked job applications and selling site posts, rather than looking forward to it all, I just find myself worrying about the forthcoming festivities. And it got me thinking that I can’t be the only one who suffers with anxiety at this time of year.
The commercial pressure on people to ‘enjoy’ Christmas is now insurmountable. If you’re not Instagramming your elf antics, whilst wearing your matching festive pyjamas and sipping hot chocolate from an oversized mug, then did it really happen? Are you ‘making memories’? It feels as if it’s become an international competition to out-Christmas one another with bigger presents and fun-drenched social media posts. You find yourself worrying that your celebrations won’t be as enjoyable for your children as everyone else’s; should you be creating a Christmas Eve box, is your pile of presents enough? And at the centre of it all; how am I going to pay for it? It’s too much pressure.
No, there’s not a ‘word for today’ message about the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ having been lost in consumerism at the end of all this. All I’m saying is – however you choose to spend your time with your family this year, however small your pile of presents is or limited your food budget, can we all just do each other a favour and chill a bit?
I’m lucky that we’ll have a roof over my head and I’m grateful that our family are rallying round to ensure that there’ll be enough in the fridge, but most of all, I just want to focus on my children. Our 11-month old already bats my mobile out of my hand and I think she has a point – this year, I’m not going to focus on what we haven’t got, but instead what we do. Each other. I choose presence over presents.