‘Tis the season!
And it really is a season. Halloween frenzy starts in September, followed by Diwali, Thanksgiving, UAE National Day, Christmas and of course, New Year's Eve.
I’m exhausted just typing that to be honest, and I’m wondering if anyone else feels frazzled with ‘Perfect Month’ syndrome?
It’s not like we don’t know it’s coming, and actually that’s part of the problem. We have all year to think about it, make plans, invent plans, think about what we did last year, what we want to do different this year, stupid comparisonitis and phew, wake me up on January 1st please!
All should be well – it's a time for celebrations with friends, family and colleagues, so why is your tummy a constant pit of dread and anxiety? One thing I have learned in my years is that things are always as difficult or as easy as WE make them. I don’t always follow my own instincts however, especially when it comes to December. We never quite seem to learn the lessons of festive past do we? Maybe a visit from Ebeneezer’s ghostly friend might be in order to show us.
You see, the problem isn’t the calendar, it’s us.
We try and recreate something we look back on as ‘perfect’ - but nothing is perfect, and it never was. and we must take the rose-tinted glasses of years gone by off, and stop adding MORE to the list.
One minute the kids are going back to school and the next it’s December 1st. Halloween lasted a fortnight and who can resist Diwali celebrations with neighbours, National Day hype and then boom – a family Christmas to create – maybe travel to plan (and I won’t even touch on that) fitting things in, cramming Christmas across the miles, thinking about food, do you need a new tree and your current obsession with making your home look like a 7-star hotel.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Like most, I often think back to childhood festivities. Of course, there are particular stand out gifts I was given – more special as you had hoped and dreamed for them nearly all year, in a simpler time when essentially, kids had ‘less’ irrespective of social status. We weren’t plied with goodies and ‘experiences’ all year round – and yes, we were perfectly fine, more than fine in fact.
I cannot remember a specific element of the house décor, the home made whatever or fancy recipes or whether we had matching napkin rings that year. I remember the laughter, the family moments, the TV specials, and just that fuzzy feeling of holiday cheer.
It’s the same with weddings – those things you stressed the most about? Guaranteed to have turned into the least important part of your day.
It’s important to plan if you want to attend specific events say or manage busy schedules – everyone in Dubai is just ‘so busy’ darling, it can be tricky to pin people down. I always try to think ahead and book in if there are super-specific things I don’t want to miss, a particular venue or restaurant, a show or event for example.
And yes, I’ve fallen into the consumer trap time after time. All of a sudden there is a choice of 100 different advent calendars on the market, and I want the kids to have the ‘right’ one – at 10 x the price of course, and won’t matching family PJ’s be a laugh? Yep – for an extra AED 1000 on your holiday bill. We NEED a gingerbread house (no one will eat it) Christmas Eve boxes! December 1st boxes (for heaven's sake) and DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON THE ELF.
Our Elf never made it onto a shelf. I did not buy an Elf.
Admittedly, my kids were just out of that age when yet another American tradition crossed the seas, so a deliberate swerve was made easier. I know if 10 years prior, I’d have been all in.
The Holiday season IS magical – it is NO MORE magical with a diary planned to military precision, hand stamped wrapping paper, a Christmas craft *a day* co-ordinated table linen and the perfect crystal poised next to hand calligraphed place name cards.
So many of you will do most if not all of these things, and enjoy it. I salute you. I make a fuss too – I really am Mrs Christmas, but I have learned what the really important things are and a stressed-out Kellie over insignificant things does not a happy family make. Other bits and pieces are non-negotiable, and I will spend time and money on things many of you would consider as non-essential or a waste of time. Stop trying to have the month you think you should be having and enjoy the month you have.