‘Tis the season of merry production.
Dashing through the house and pulling out the festive platters, boxes of tree decorations and garland, decorating inside and out. Picking up a tree, and paying triple due to a shortage, while putting together our gay apparel. Create a seasonal ‘to do’ list that winds up being a book — sporting our superwoman cape while decking the halls on the backs of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Entertain and clean, entertain and clean and entertain and clean some more. Making spirits bright by assuming the role of Kissinger amongst quarrelling relatives. Racing to make sure we have enough boughs of holly while exhausting oneself. Wishing, Xanax infused egg nog existed while struggling to keep up with the holiday fare. Bah humbug.
My Christmas manifesto will be the polar opposite of how I have approached it in the past — creating the reverse of a to-do Christmas list. In what NOT to do. It will commence with the pleasant smells that are the hallmark of effort in preparation for the season. Except it will be coming from a candle, not my kitchen. A turkey transforms into a plant-based meal of Tofurkey, guaranteeing, there will be no line up at my front door. I will legitimize the season with pared-down practices that will forego the pomp and circumstance. Though this new convention is foreign to me, it will focus on the essence, not the ego of the holiday.
I went from being Martha Stewart, pulling off architectural digest themed rooms on Christmas steroids to one done as stark as a Tic Tac. A simple vase with silver bulbs and calling it a day. The boxes of gorgeous Christmas bulbs have since been donated. After 35 years of prepping the house, cooking, wrapping, baking, shopping, lining up, driving and entertaining with barely time to catch my breath, I’m officially done, and I’m not going back. My time has come to bitch slap all those activities. The festive platters are in my rearview mirror. Should I see another, I’m going to take hostages. As for the festive wardrobe, that’s gone too. I’m now signing up for the tapered holiday celebration. Yoohoo, over here. That’s me in the cozy clothing, warm cider, great food and my beautiful family. Wherever they are, is my holiday place and it’s not contingent on one day of the year but every day. The only thing I may maintain is a small Christmas tree instead of fresh flowers. Placing it in our bedroom with care, where it will emanate its lovely fragrance with twinkle lights and a star, nothing more. This, to the dismay of our grown children, who otherwise enjoyed an enormous tree decorated to the hilt. One, they would pass for two seconds as they walked into the house and then right back out.
My manifesto is about celebrating this holiday in the most genuine way I know how, void of embellishments. I’ve more than earned my domestic diva badge in this lifetime with fancy gift wrapping tricks and complicated holiday recipes. Time to start something new.
I can’t remember when last I wore a cocktail dress. It will be comfortable attire all the way, that speaks to the season, not the holiday portion of it and no running around for gifts. That’s off my list as well. Charities will be the recipient of any spending. Everyone around me is now grown up and can get what they want. Any hostess gifts will be lovely bottles of wine, olive oils, homemade granola or cookies. The entire Christmas festive practice is an old tradition of what we are expected to do. With Home ec behind us, we can be proud of the years invested in supporting such a custom, and can now choose to take a hard pass. We are a demographic of women who have instigated so much change. It’s time for the holiday practices to shift. The Grinch had it right; once he discovered he had it ass backwards. You don’t need all that stuff to be happy; you need that magical feeling, which is love. Christmas now has the f word around it. Family, friends, food and fun.
The kids will find Queen Elizabeth, William Lyon Mackenzie King or Sir Robert Borden stuffed in their stockings along with clementines and chocolates. No boxes, wrapping or trash. It will be an environmental Zen holiday season.
Which made me think that perhaps I should share my ideas so others can have as blissful a holiday season as I plan too.
Here’s what you will require for a Zen Christmas.
1. When it comes to making spirits bright, Tequila is my choice, but you might enjoy wine. A favourite at our home is bourbon with warm apple cider and a cinnamon stick. Have enough of these, and you’ll see the Northern lights never mind Christmas lights.
2. Cash. Yes, I’ve grown up around grandmothers and aunts who, back then, would stuff a ten-dollar bill, the equivalent of a hundred today, in the palm of your hand. A Christmas card and cash can go anywhere.
3. Laughter, this isn’t seasonal. You need this all year round. It’s proven exercise. Christmas can be a stressful time for a lot of people. There’s a forced aspect that comes with the season. Crap happens all year round, and there’s no immunity at Christmas. To pretend to be jolly is a script for an ulcer. Release yourself from any attachments and grant yourself permission to enjoy the season on your terms and make sure you laugh and lots. Santa would want that.
4. Not participating in the hustle and bustle but instead activities that maintain balance and calm like yoga and meditation as well as donating your time to help others. There is not a more beautiful Christmas gift than helping someone. It puts you in a place of grace and gratitude while leaving you with a marvellous feeling. That’s a gift.
5. Connecting with friends. What a great time to catch up with those we see too little of and whose company we enjoy. A practice worth instigating all year round.
6. Maintaining a budget. Christmas is a natural time to want to break the bank. My suggestion is, don’t. Stay within your limit. You’ll be glad you did in January once the holiday hangover is over.
7. Cookies, lots and lots of cookies. They are crack on a dessert table. I love to make, buy and receive them. Everything about a Christmas cookie is delightful. Be forewarned that Santa’s belly is a product of many Christmas cookies, so practice moderation.
8. A pot of tea, a great book and a seasonal film. My favourite is a dark comedy called “The Ref” and some kick-ass sexy winter lingerie better known as flannel pyjamas. Though thicker and looser, they are every bit as hot.
9. A fireplace or a candle. Something is mesmerizing and meditative when you gaze at a flame. That focus stops your mind from racing and slows you down while expanding your third eye.
10. Get outside. Whether it be a walk, a skate or a cross country ski, enjoy the outdoors. The freshness and stillness at this time of the year are strangely soothing.
If you follow these ten steps, you will have a lovely Christmas filled with the true spirit of the season. Our happiness doesn’t lay in a box with objects filled with tissue. It never did. Joy lives within each of us. We are the colourful lights that we are otherwise embellishing around us. We need to bring that light to everyone we meet with a smile and a hug, especially those that you know without a doubt deserve ten truckloads of coal delivered to their front door. They need your light the most. And as we stretch ourselves to go there, we can remember what Santa already knew. We are all one.
Enjoy your month!