2020, what a year. While many are writing the year off as the worst ever, I am still trying to maintain a glass half full mentality. I know we are so lucky living in Queensland, we will never know just how difficult other’s situations were in other states, and we are so grateful but also so empathetic to others at the same time. My husband and I both kept our jobs, none of my family got ill with the virus and we still managed a little getaway. Despite this, the last 12 months have really changed what our family looks like and has put a lot into perspective. We've said goodbye to three grandparents, we’ve seen friends constantly heartbroken over fertility issues, family and friends have had life changing medical diagnoses, but we are lucky, I still challenge myself to see the positive side. How lucky are we that our daughter got to forge memories with great grandparents for over four years of her life. Not everyone gets that.
For anyone that knows me personally, knows that I love Christmas soooooo much! Having a child makes me even more excited for Christmas. Seeing a child's face light up with the magic of Christmas is something truly amazing. But, it is sometimes really easy to get caught up in the small stuff. Something as simple as putting up the tree suddenly becomes an Instagram moment, with your focus turning to sharing the most beautiful shots of your perfectly colour coordinated tree. I am usually a stickler for ensuring the tree is perfectly balanced, but this year I let go and let my little cherub put clashing colours next to each other and too many baubles on each branch, because it made her so happy. She danced around the tree to Christmas carols and couldn't help but give me a little cuddle every time she walked past, because she was having so much fun. And no, I didn’t fix the tree when she was asleep. Those clashing baubles serve as a daily reminder to me of her pure joy over something so simple.
This moment really got me thinking, what are the things I really want my daughter to learn about the meaning of Christmas? Do I want her to focus on the perfection of the tree decorations, or the joy of setting it up together?
It is amazing the things kids teach you and remind you. This year was also the first year she really understood the concept of a letter to Santa. I helped her write it and she drew some beautiful pictures and wrote her name. I asked her what she wanted to write in the letter and made no mention of her wish list. She responded with “Dear Santa, I love you, I hope you have a Merry Christmas”. This right here is something I will try to hold onto forever, her focus on wishing Santa a Merry Christmas, rather than her letter being full of all the presents she wants. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that, I am just going to hold onto the innocence for as long as I can.
This year we are also faced with the reality that our Christmas will look a lot different as we will be missing some very special people. For me, Christmas is all about family! It is so easy to get caught up in ensuring you have the perfect menu or table decorations, all your gifts are perfectly wrapped and coordinated, or your trifle is worthy of the hashtag #foodporn, but no one will remember that. Let’s face it, you probably won’t even remember that Country Road top you got. But you will remember that stinking hot Christmas Day, how your family had an all in water bomb war or how your Dad always falls asleep on the couch after lunch, or the crazy Christmas hats your niece wears. Try not to get caught up in the stress and just remember these special moments, because if this year has taught me anything, it is how quickly it can all change.
So instead of sweating this small stuff, this year I am consciously focusing on the below three things to make Christmas more meaningful in our household:
1: EMBRACE THE CHAOS
Our Christmas Day is a busy one, as are the days before and after, but I wouldn't have it any other way. We generally have a family Christmas Eve dinner close to home, Christmas morning breakfast with my parents, then travel out of town for a Christmas lunch and then head to the coast for a Christmas night celebration. Yep, we are in the car for about three hours or more but gosh are we lucky that we have four beautiful families that we can catch up with, all within driving distance, all in the same state! Some people don’t have any family close by.
2: DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
For me giving back or supporting others really helps me to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Why not volunteer if time permits or give a gift to someone in need. I also try to buy gifts from local businesses or support brands with heart where I can. Your purchase not only makes a beautiful gift but it also supports charities or simply Mum and Dad business owners and their families. I do also buy from big national companies, but don’t forget that these businesses employ local families too.
3: TREASURE TRADITIONS
There is nothing better than those special traditions with loved ones. My favourite from when I was a kid was driving around to see Christmas lights with my Mum or helping her make the rum balls. My Mum now takes time to make gingerbread men with all the grandkids, something they always look forward to. I am going to try really hard to create a special tradition with my daughter too.
So I guess if anything, I wanted to share a little bit of what Christmas will look like for me and encourage you to strip back the layers of festive season stress and get back to what it really is all about. I really hope that it can inspire at least one single person to help flip their mindset of focusing on what the true meaning of Christmas is to you. It is different for every person but for us this year, we are going to make sure it is all about family. You never know what the future will bring, so treasure every moment and every opportunity you can.
Merry Christmas to the Real Active Community, from my family to yours!