There is a lot of talk around at the moment about “cutting back this Christmas”. The current economic climate – where few are immune from feeling the pinch – seems to be provoking conversations about “a simpler Christmas”. It is though we are perhaps collectively remembering the days of old – the days before Recent Christmas. In Recent Christmas, parents became obsessed with buying their child the latest MUST HAVE toy, parents went into debt to ensure their offspring got the presents they really wanted, and all of us became tired and frazzled, rushing from shop to shop to buy all the things that were meant to make us happy. In Recent Christmas, we all had to have the Perfect Day – perfect meal, perfect presents, perfect experience. I admit, I got caught up in Recent Christmas and the quest for perfection. Last year, my husband and I hosted Christmas at ours with my family. We got carried away in Sainsbury’s, buying enough food to feed an army (instead of six adults and a toddler) and enough alcohol to keep an army happy. Presents were a bit more restrained as we all agreed a £10 budget beforehand – although my husband still bought me a ridiculously generous, jaw-stopping gift. We managed to spend a lot of money all round. And it was fun. Although my husband commented the other day that he doesn’t really remember a lot about it.
We are obviously not the only ones doing things differently this year. We find ourselves in a very different position than we were twelve months ago. He is studying and I am trying to make it a freelancer. There simply isn’t much money to go round. Not much at all. Thankfully we have decided we want to try a new way – Present Christmas (but with many less presents). We have decided to be as present as possible throughout the festive season, not spending the pre-Christmas time available rushing around buying gifts,. We are hoping to BE present, rather than just give presents. So we are making a list of the fun (free) things we can do in London – seeing the lights, going for long wintry walks, making homemade soup and mulled wine, listening to our favourite festive CD (Bob Dylan Does Christmas – so worth a listen!), looking at the Christmas display windows in the big shops (but not going in), inviting friends round for mulled wine and mince pies (if they are on offer in Sainsbury’s!). We have decided to create good memories that we hope to treasure for years to come. Rather than thinking that new jumpers/socks/CDs will make us happy, we are trying to cherish each other and those we love – for who they are, not what they might give us.
What does Christmas look like for you this year? Why don’t you join us as we attempt to truly celebrate Present Christmas (with far fewer presents)?