Rethinking Christmas, and Re-Synchronising with Everyday Life

Happy New Year! For me, and maybe for you, the start of the year feels like a re-synchronisation between my internal clock and the external world of work and life in general.

A re-calibration of energies: we all get to start somewhere on the same page. It’s an opportunity for an amnesty for past misalignments.

I don’t like Christmas much. But I love love love the week between Boxing Day and New Year. It’s such a week of freedom, space, and relief. Going-to-ground, the pressure’s off. A creative fallow-realm. Some days I don’t bother to change out of my pyjamas. No one expects a reply to an email, or even for you to check them. There’s no need for an OOO. No social events on the calendar (at least not on mine, ah…). Gifts have been exchanged, thanks have been texted. Those people who don’t like texts (srsly why tho?) have their phone call.

Unless you’ve got a banging New Year’s Eve rave to go to obvs – but it’s not expected. It’s not obligatory.

I’m out-of-touch and out-of-sync with the out-there world. In a little bubble of snuggling under blankets and too much chocolate and long wrapped-up walks (in the, like, 3 hours of daylight you get here, if you’re lucky)…

I wish, most years, this time-between was two weeks long. One week never feels like quite enough to really revel in this space. If I can get away with it, I generally try to take the first week of January off but inevitably get sucked into trying to get my ducks in order (software updates, the previous year’s projects all archived, business planning for the new year and all that admin jazz) but at least I can try to do it in a more slow, considered, civilised manner. Jumping back in straight away to the maelstrom sounds… hurried and unwise. But it seems to be the way the world works.

It’s a recipe for undoing all the sweet, sweet recharging of the previous non-week.

Rolling back a bit – remember when I said I don’t like Christmas? I’m a proper grinch! Nightmare. Instead (sums up courage), I’m going to take a break from it this coming year. I need to make a head start on putting it into action now – later in the year I’ll forget the deep, grinding stress of it all, think, “oh, it wasn’t so bad,” weigh up the difficulty of telling people who may be super-invested in my participation… and think better of it.

This is just a personal feeling, and I have no judgements at all for people that love Christmas and all it entails. In fact, power to you. I’m glad you have this.

But the discombobulating feeling of it all is still fresh in my mind right now. Committing my ideas and plans to this page is a means of setting the ball in motion with the tiniest and lowest-stakes baby step.

I may, instead, replace Christmas with a small, personal celebration of the Winter Solstice.

Unlike what Christmas has become for me, this Solstice Celebration won’t be about racing the clock, capitalist consumption, gift exchanges, large social gatherings and travel in cold, icy weather, social obligation and keeping everyone else happy at the expense of one’s mental health.

Instead, I would like this Solstice time to be about a deliberate pause, an inward reflection, hibernation, cosiness and warmth; a deep and visceral appreciation for the point on the calendar where daylight hours get longer – mild SAD is likely not an inconsequential, confounding factor adding to my feelings of disenchantment around this time of year. More daylight makes me happy, and the approaching promise of those long days of summer fills me with quiet glee.

I may mark this Solstice by bringing little, physical, sparkling points of light into the darkness. I’ll probably still put the ancient, tiny, fibre-optic tree from my student days up. Carol of The Bells and Oh Holy Night may make an appearance on my seasonal playlists (though I sometimes think I only like them because of their stirringly emotive use in various Christmas episodes of The West Wing… but I digress). Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater or anything.

As the Solstice is a little bit earlier than Christmas, I get my two-week liminal space too, and find a way to sync up with external expectations come the Brand New Year a little earlier. Not least – I’m one of those weirdos who rather enjoys January. Having the opportunity to get even a little bit more of it, already feeling fully recharged and way more prepared to re-synchronise, would be a lovely, welcome gift.


Photo: The Starship Enterprise hangs in a fibre-optic Christmas tree