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Revisit traditions

Christmas can bring out the child in all of us but what worked in the past doesn't always work in the present


As an adult (and especially a parent) Christmas is often a time of trying to meet expectations of others and expectations of ourselves. One way to alleviate this is to revisit long-standing traditions and work out which ones really elevate the spirit of Christmas and which ones cause more stress than is needed.


Do you love to take a Boxing Day walk with people special to you? Is the local pantomime a highlight of your festivities? Think back to your favourite memories of Christmas and pinpoint what made it really special. For me, it was singing Christmas carols under the tree, putting up the Christmas lights and roasting nuts over the fire. The Christmas before my father passed away, we were Christmas shopping in Leeds and he disappeared, returning 10 minutes later looking very happy with himself. He’d remembered that I loved roasted chestnuts from our years in Germany and had found a street vendor. Whenever I eat them now, I think of him and smile.

Another tradition I don't think I'll ever give up is Christmas stockings. I think this stems from celebrating St Nicholas Eve in Germany, where children would leave out a clean shoe or sock in the hope of a small gift or treat. It also takes me right back to waking up early on Christmas morning and the excitement of a sack stuffed with little gifts, satsumas and nuts at the bottom of the bed.


Give yourself the time and permission to create and celebrate these traditions. Don’t squeeze them in, in some kind of anxious frenzy or expect everyone else to enjoy them as much as you do. Enjoy them fully, even if (and especially!) just for yourself.


What do you enjoy less? Is Christmas dinner always at a rigid time? Does having a set plan help you to feel calm or would you prefer a more relaxed, flexible day? Think about this well in advance and communicate your feelings to all involved. Christmas has the potential to bring out the kind of family drama only equalled in wedding planning. A conversation to explore what’s important to each person, well in advance of the day, will hopefully lead to a happy place where everyone gets a little of what matters to them.

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