‘tis the season to be jolly? Think again

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Written By Tracey Markos

‘Tis the season to be Jolly? Think again.

With Christmas fast approaching and the stress building, how do you have a happy festive season?It really would be a miracle of Christmas, and I’d be ‘Santa-like’ if I really had that answer.

Sorry to disappoint at this wonderfully festive time of year but statistics don’t lie. There are more heart attacks and divorces during these ‘jolly’ holidays than any other time of year. Indicating the stress of Christmas could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for people already struggling.

Here are some ways to try and have a Fa-la-la-la lazy Christmas and stop the stress.

Back to basics

Christmas is not about spending money hand over fist or slaving over a hot stove. Sadly though, that’s exactly what it’s become. This time of year, regardless of your beliefs or followings, is about family! Kids are on school holidays, many parents take time off work, and just for a moment you can enjoy each other and just ‘be’. Lower your expectations and remember what gives you joy – it’s not the BMW in your driveway or the mortgage you pay each month. Spend quality time with each other and laugh. Laughter is the best medicine.

The gifts

Every family has a different idea about gifts. Do what is right for you and your budget. Be thoughtful and practical. Don’t buy to offend. If you buy a ‘joke’ present, make sure the recipient has a sense of humour. Buy batteries! Most of all enjoy the family moment of gift giving. It’s about being present, not getting presents!

The food

I am all for the big Christmas dinner with all the trappings but let’s be smart and not spend the day in the kitchen (remind me to read this come Christmas day).

We are in the height of summer in Australia and a cold lunch on a hot day is the way to go. If you must have turkey, get a pre-cooked buffet from the supermarket. You get all the best bits without the hassle. A good Aussie leg ham does not need baking. Slice it beautifully, and the family will enjoy the salty coolness on a hot day. A couple of kilos of bright red king prawns, smoked salmon and a few dozen oysters will please every crowd. If you must have baked veggies, cut your choices into similar sizes, throw into a disposable tray, toss with olive oil and rosemary and place into a moderate oven for an hour. Give them a toss every 20 mins or so to even up the browning, and they are good to go.

If you want a salad to keep the cool theme going, buy some mixed leaves; throw them on a platter with some sliced mango, avocado and feta, or tomatoes, cucumber and feta. Think colour!

Buy the dressing and the gravy. Easy peasy!

For dessert, buy a plum pudding and pre-made custard (with or without brandy). Or a pre-made pavlova base – whip some cream and throw some strawberries and grated chocolate over the top. Remember, keep it simple! Don’t forget some Australian sparkling wine to wash it all down.

The greatest gift of all

Be present at all times. Play with your kids and their new toys. Be present and get off your devices. Take photos. Lots of them. Take photos of your spouse. Often, someone is the photographer and never gets photographed. Did I mention, be present? Do not post on social media till everyone is having their post-dinner snooze in front of a lovely Christmas movie. Choose a Christmas movie that reminds you of all the good in the world.

Spend quiet time together. Kiss your loved ones on the forehead, and hug for at least 20 seconds. Trust me, it feels different.

At the end of the day, rejoice in the gifts that money can’t buy.

A poem I wrote to bring it home…

The night before Christmas, I looked ‘round my home,

It resembled a scene from a glass Christmas dome.

The tree shining bright, and the stockings in place,

My heart skipped a beat, and tears ran down my face

It finally hit me, as I wiped at my eyes,

I’d been so damn busy, I didn’t realise,

It’s not how much money, or cars, or degrees,

It’s the love that you share, and the wood from the trees.

Stop looking at others and all that they own,

Look at your loved ones, and how time has flown.

The true gifts of life are not wrapped up in bows.

They come with reality, the high and the lows.

My loved ones all watching the same festive flick,

After making a phone call to a loved one who’s sick

True family and friends will remain by your side

They get you through life, and through turns of the tide.

Remember the loved ones we can no longer hug,

No matter how much at your heart this will tug.

Cry tears of laughter, and weep tears of pain,

For things in our life that will not be again,

Some we have learnt from, others we’ve not,

Some we will treasure, some best forgot.

This Christmas embrace all the cheer and goodwill,

Embrace all the gifts that don’t come with a bill.

Look at your family and love all they do,

For no one is perfect, least of all you.