Pressures of Christmas and remembering what’s important

Christmas means many things to different people.  For some the links to the origin of the Christmas story are strong and central.  For others it’s just another work day.  Many use it as a time to connect with family and whanau, or it’s a chance to loosen the belt and eat everything on the table or maybe it’s simply all about the presents!!

Although Christmas can bring anticipation of fun, joy, connection and happiness, most of us will also know that the dream doesn’t always match the reality!  Christmas also brings with it many added pressures.

It’s a time we’re thrown together with family and whanau that can be a melting pot of different personalities – where people we love don’t always see eye-to-eye or have old, unresolved grievances that float to the surface.

Or it puts such huge financial pressure on us that we begin to feel overwhelmed and panic about making ends meet in the new year.

Work demands can mean we’re not able to be with our children as much as we’d like and the guilt is devastating.

All the excitement and change of routine can mean that children’s tiredness spills over into tears and tantrums and what looks like mean, ungrateful behaviour (right when all the rellies are there to witness it!!)

We can feel so disappointed and let down by ourselves and others as things don’t quite go to plan and it turns out not to match the perfect Christmas scene in our heads.

It’s important to remember what (who) is important – if you’re reading this, then you probably have small children – aren’t our little ones most important at Christmas? It’s not about keeping grumpy dad happy, or your aunty or the new in-laws, your brother’s new girlfriend, the neighbour, or anyone else – it’s about the kids!!  And what do kids need? Connected, present, regulated adults who create an atmosphere of acceptance and boundaries.

So.. if aunty, who promised to be on dessert, turns up with a pack of Mallow Puffs instead of the promised pavlova – laugh and get the kids to build a mini Christmas tree out of them.  If the present you spent months saving for and choosing carefully is discarded for a $2 water gun that your thoughtless, unorganised sibling picked up last minute – make a target out of cardboard, cut out a hole and get the sibling to wear it!  If you’re the one running round sorting food and drinks, ask for help and explain that, as a parent, your main job at Christmas is being connected to the children. Be in the moment with your children.  They won’t remember if the Christmas meal turned out to be sandwiches, they’ll remember that you created magic, excitement, mystery and a calm, connected, forgiving and loving environment for them.  Everything else can be sorted out after things settle down again and, no matter how you may be judged, you will know, in your heart, you did Christmas perfectly.