Step One. Work out what is your most important family tradition.
The expectations around Christmas are very real. The great thing is that as an adult you are free to make your own choices about which expectations you will take on, and which you will choose to ignore. To increase your Christmas Calm decide what is the most important tradition for you family.
Find out what activities your family love doing in the lead up to Christmas and do it!
Do you know the number one thing each member in your family loves about Christmas?
What do you love most about Christmas?
Making and following traditions and sharing experiences are two of the glues that keep families together; and Christmas is tradition central!
In fact it can be tradition overwhelm. But when you know what each person in your family loves and wants to do, you reduce the overwhelm and create Christmas Calm.
...following traditions and sharing experiences are two of the glues that keep families together,
Over the years I have tried different things leading up to Christmas, some have stuck, others for various reasons haven’t. Sometimes activities have just involved too much work, or had disappointing results, such as when one of my Christmas puddings went mouldy; other times they changed as the children grew.
For quite a few years when the children were younger we went to Road to Bethlehem where the Christmas story is reenacted, and then the children grew out of it. Making Christmas cards was also a standout fun tradition when the children were younger. And even with three teenagers we still make some, but not as many.
Our main family tradition now: Christmas light looking.
When we were away from home for Christmas I think this was what we missed the most. We tried looking all around Hobart and believe we found the only street that decorated (I’m sure there were more but when you’re driving around a strange place in the dark stumbling across them is a matter of luck).
So I have known in previous years, that no matter what else is going on there will be drives around the neighbourhood looking at lights. And yes, that is drives, plural.
And the great thing is, I can still try other fun things leading up to Christmas, but if nothing else except the light looking happens, that is perfectly OK; because that is what the children in our family look forward to and enjoy.
So, your first challenge is to ask your family members what traditions you are prioritising this Christmas.
If you don’t get much of a response, that’s OK, it means you are free to create your own. In the Creating Christmas Calm Facebook group you can read other people’s responses, think about what you used to enjoy as a child, and/or what you have always wanted to do.
Hint: It is good to check in every year as your children grow, as traditions can change.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.