Taking the festive reins

For years we did the alternate ‘Christmas here, Christmas there’ routine familiar to many with loved ones in different parts of the country/world. If it wasn’t the turn for Christmas itself with my folks in Ireland, then we’d head over at some point just after, usually for new year.

I love the Christmas holiday time, the seasonal pause that it represents. I down tools for Winter Solstice and pick up again after 6th January.

It felt increasingly jarring to keep punctuating this time of deep rest with an uprooting and airport experience.

Then when our daughter came, I wanted us all to wake up in our own home on Christmas morning every year.

I decided to take the reins and shake things up a little.

So we started going over to see my family the last weekend in November instead. It’s also rather handily been when daughter’s school schedules a non-pupil day, sometimes two, which extends the weekend.

Now we all know that change can cause upset. So, how did I kick it off?

I let my family know that I’d really like it if we could all still get together on this late November weekend instead. Let’s adopt Thanksgiving I suggested!

When I did this something else happened.

Usually, regardless of when we went over to stay during the festive period, my mum hosted and cooked a Christmas style feast for all the all of us, brothers’ families included.

She said that she loved having us all together, but that she didn’t want to do ‘the meal’ anymore. 

So one of my brothers booked a table at a gastro pub.  We gathered in an upstairs room on the Sunday afternoon. We had the space to ourselves. The kids ran around, even did cart wheels. We ate and chatted. And no one missing out because they were in the kitchen.

We’ve done this for the last couple of years and I’ve come to see it as the start of the festive period.

It’s Thanksgiving today and the extended weekend this one. Alas I will not be with my family. It will be a year since I saw them in person.😔

I find myself wondering what it looks like to create a new family experience for this year? At the same time honouring my need for a pause?🤔

For many of us, there’ll be another layer of compromises to be made this year. Do you have a bubble with your parents or your in-laws? How to accommodate different peoples’ approach to fear and physical contact? How to manage the logistics of getting somewhere?🤷🏻‍♀️

I’m adopting the simple approach that serves me well.

  1. First, check in with yourself: how would you actually like to spend this Christmas? 
  2. Let go of any second guessing about what others might want to do or might be doing.
  3. Keep it simple. ‘This is what I’d like. What are your plans? What’s possible?’

So, I find my desire to see my family in person trumps my desire to stay away from airports. To this end, I’ve been familiarising myself with the COVID Christmas guidelines, speaking with my mum, texting my brothers. And letting husband and mother-in-law know I’ll keep them posted!

In the meantime, it’s Thanksgiving today. I’m kicking off the festive run up by meeting an American friend out with our dogs🐕🐕 this morning. This evening husband is cooking a special meal showcasing the big squash he grew at the allotment this year. Simple pleasures.🙏🏼

I wonder how will you’ll navigate this festive season for yourself, dear friend? What’s possible?

However it looks for you, let’s flourish together!👭🌎❤️

Arlene x

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