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What I Like & Dislike Most About Christmas
It’s pretty obvious that this is my favourite time of year. And there’s lots of reasons why – but also a few parts I don’t like about it. But overall – it’s my favourite.
What I love the most about Christmas is the buzz in the air when December comes around that gets everybody in the ‘mood’. Christmas markets are in full swing, Christmas music is playing on loop and there’s just a lovely atmosphere around the towns. You can tell it’s Christmas. The lights are on, the decorations are up and it’s lovely to see everyone’s own little version of Christmas. Nobody decorates their tree or their house the same, everyone has their own taste which makes each tree unique. My best friend, for example, has a glamorous Christmas tree which looks like it could be in a home fashion magazine with white and glittery decorations covering every inch and no tinsel in sight. Mine, however, is more traditional – and I cover mine with vintage tree decorations that have their own meaning and value.
I think people get caught up in the idea that Christmas is all about preparing for that one day, and forget that it’s the buzz in the weeks before – the shopping around, the socialising, the enjoyment of seeing lovely displays and putting your own personal touch on it – is actually the biggest part of Christmas. It’s what gets us in the mood for the day itself, and continues even after Christmas Day is over. People make plans to see each other and spend time with each other, and being with your loved ones is what it’s all about.
What I dislike most, however, is how commercialised Christmas has become and I think I understand why. See, when I was a kid, our parents didn’t have an abundance of money but they had enough to give us a good Christmas and the presents weren’t the focus. Toys were well-made and expensive which meant we only got what we really wanted and would play with, rather than a stack of stocking fillers just to make the pile look fuller.
Nowadays, you can get a ‘version’ of anything for a fraction of the cost. Budget stores sell gifts for much cheaper which means you can buy more for less. With the increase of social media, we openly share and see how others spend their money and what their idea of Christmas looks like, and it turns into a competition rather than a unique day for each family. People share their designer jewellery and stack of gifts, and it becomes focused on the gifts rather than the true meaning of Christmas. And so, the year after, pressure is put on those less fortunate to buy more and ‘prove’ their love through spending. I worked in debt advice and we would see an influx of clients in January with an abundance of credit cards and catalogue accounts which was evident that it was because they were paying for Christmas using money they didn’t have. You should not get into debt for just one day of the year. It really is not worth paying off debt for a year just for one day.
My top tips for Christmas is to start planning in the middle of the year. Sales happen throughout the year, and if you have places to hide things, you can start buying 6 months in advance and spreading out the cost that way. It doesn’t seem such a big hit if you spend £30 a month for 6 months rather than £180 out of your account in one month. I bought Yankee Candles in the first week of January one year, as they were down to half price, and they stayed in my wardrobe for 12 months until they could be gifted the next year.
But remember, Christmas isn’t about being able to afford the best or the most. It’s about showing love and appreciation. Just being part of someone’s day makes all the difference. If you really want to give to somebody, get creative. I make personalised gifts for my loved ones – and it’s much more appreciated than a bag full of meaningless gifts that they probably won’t use or will re-gift to someone else. Helping out at Christmas dinner, bringing a bottle of wine or a cake for dessert. One year, a relative forgot to defrost their turkey and their family of 4 didn’t have a Christmas dinner. So we put on some more veg, brought out the emergency chairs and we crammed in around a small table, elbows touching and Christmas hats on eating together as a family. It meant a lot to them but also to us to spend time with them that day. Most people would rather have you with them than shut away at home because the stress of it all was too much.
Last year, a business I worked for didn’t have money for new decorations and found a box of old ones in the loft. They weren’t going to decorate as they didn’t think the decorations were good enough quality. I took the box off their hands – and turned it into this:
Christmas is a wonderful time of year – don’t get lost in the true meaning because of the social pressures of buying. Help others where you can – help decorate someone’s tree who struggles to decorate their own, go visit those who don’t have others to spend time with. I can’t count the amount of trees and decorations I’ve put up for offices and hospitals because they didn’t have the time to do it themselves. It meant more to them than putting my hand in my pocket.
Donate your time – not your money. That means so much more.