I am wearing my pyjama bottoms, a jumper that feels a bit tight after the indulgences of the past few days, sitting in the living room, looking at our Christmas tree. I feel shivers coming up from my limbs, and a sense of contentment settling in. I allow myself to feel it, to experience it, to live in this moment. I drink it all in.
This was the first year that I felt Christmasy. As I explained before, in the past few years Christmas was just another setting in the treadmill that was my life, a pit stop of responsibilities (I need to find presents) guilt (why have I not decorated a tree yet?) and a combo of high expectations and exhaustion. So this year I made a deal with myself: what if instead of stressing out, I enjoyed it? What if I gave myself a break if I did not do everything I ‘should‘ do, and gave myself a pat on the back when I did the things I enjoyed?
I made my 12 wishes of Christmas list, intent on keeping it a wish list instead of a to do list. So, sitting in my living room, in my PJs, with a hot chocolate and daytime TV on, I look back at that post. Here is how it went:
1) Decorate a Christmas tree
For the first time in years we decorated a tree. The last few years work, exhaustion and family losses pushed the festive season at the bottom of our priorities. This year things were different-we were different. However by the time I decided to get one every retailer had run out. I drowned the critical ‘you should have done this sooner‘ with a ‘it is not too late‘, and after a few clicks I found a tree available in Argos. It was the last one; not too tall, not too short – just perfect.
2) Get a Christmas jumper and Christmas socks
I did not get a Christmas jumper, but I got Christmas socks. They kept my feet warm on a lazy Saturday morning, and they definitely got me in the Christmas mood.
3) Get an advent calendar
I got two advent calendars: one for home and one for work. The one I kept at home was a Mars one, and the one I had at work was a Peppa Pig, something that raised a few eyebrows but was mostly met with an amused nonchalance. I loved them both. I cannot remember the last time that I had an advent calendar, so that was a real treat for me, giving me a veritable rush of childish delight every time I opened a door.
4) Give to charity
Christmas can have the power to take your brain away from the constant inner monologue of what you don’t have yet and remind you how much you already have if you take a look around you. There are so many people in need, out in the cold and hidden in the shadows. I feel that helping reminds you not to take what you have for granted, and encourages gratefulness.
5) Play Christmas music on a lazy Sunday morning
Right before we decorated the tree, I turned the TV off. I took my partner’s phone, and put on the Christmas song playlist. I took a deep breath, looked at the ornaments, and smiled. I found myself singing along, the words coming back. I always loved it’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, but my favourite one has to be Santa Baby. That and All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth never fail to make me smile.
6) Make a Christmas traditional UK desert and a traditional Greek desert
Even though I love baking, I did not have time to make a traditional desert from either nationalities. I really wanted to make melomakarona, and I am determined to do so next year. I am also determined to make a Vasilopita this year, the traditional Greek New Year desert.
7) Sample as many festive treats as I can
That I did, and then some. I was on a festive path of carb discovery, with a no mince pie left behind ethic. I munched, and munched, and then munched until I could take no more, at which point I kept on munching. From gingerbread muffins to Terry’s Oranges and from hot honeycomb chocolates to praline lattes, I sampled as much as I could. I did not worry about my expanding waist, as the mantra ‘detox in January‘ was the backdrop of every delicious mouthful.
8) decorate a Greek Christmas Ship
9) Call my family and sing the traditional Christmas Carols together
I called them, but spared them the torture of my out-of-tune singing. There was no sadness about the distance. We talked, and even though we were miles apart, I felt their love and they felt mine.
10) Make my Christmas DIY ornaments
I spent a morning trying to rediscover my inner Rembrandt, and realised that he’s gone and left Pollock behind. I painted two ceramic baubles from Paperchase, and decoupaged two ornaments I got from a crafting magazine. It might have been the glue fumes or my novice innocence, but I was actually very proud of them.
11) Send Christmas cards
Every year; every single year. I buy them, write them, seal them, buy the stamps, put them on the envelope, and then -then leave them on our coffee table with a yellow post it note that says: to Mail. A few days later a new post it note appears: to Mail Today! Finally, a month later, a final post it note appears, with an all capital: MAIL TODAY! Needless to say, I always forget to. Next year.
12) Have a Christmas movie marathon with a box of Quality Street
I loved that one. I really did. I have to say that I realised that I prefer the Terry’s Segsetionals over the Quality streets (too many toffee ones), but I loved spending the nights leading to Christmas cuddled up in the sofa, munching on chocolate and watching everything from Home Alone to The Nightmare before Christmas. On Christmas Day we did another movie marathon as we were recovering from the monumental calorie intake, and I decided that this is definitely going to my 12 wishes next year.
Things that were not in my list but I did, enjoyed, and will do next year: for example, going to Southbank and taking a stroll down the Christmas market; taking a walk on Christmas afternoon, when the streets are empty and the air crisp; giving myself a break if I don’t do everything on my list, and not doing things just to do them, but doing them to enjoy them.
I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and I wish you all the best for the new year.