I Cancelled Christmas

Rusty Christmas tree ornaments accompanied by rusty tin can plant pot.

Christmas is all over the place this year, isn't it? Pandemic outbreaks everywhere are keeping celebrations muted in some places, while others go all out to try and put a terrible year behind them. Me, I kinda sorta cancelled Christmas. This is not due to covid restrictions. Here in Tasmania we are very lucky to still have a covid-free community. I am tuckered out, just as I am every Christmas, and a bit overwhelmed by Christmas expectations as I am every Christmas, and this year, for the first time, I just said No.

I said no to Christmas decorating, no to Christmas cooking, and no to our usual Christmas lunch with friends. Rosy is having Christmas with her boyfriend's family, and Paul and Red are grinchy Christmas hermits (Paul calls it the 'C' word. Do not speak its name) so I told my parents if they want to come to Christmas with us they can come up to Paul's for a sandwich. They are cool with that, so that is what we are planning to do.

I felt terribly bad about shafting our usual Christmas dinner, but I have lovely friends who were very nice about it. Since that difficult decision I have felt much better about Christmas, and even spent three minutes decorating a stick with baubles. Christmas tree = baubles on a stick. 

Our only other Christmas decorations are two small metal Christmas trees I bought fifteen years ago from the $2 shop. I quite liked them except they were too golden and glittery. I solved that problem by putting them on my outdoor potting bench when I took the decorations down last Christmas. A year in the rain has given them a truly rustic finish, and that was the extent of Christmas craft. I have been to exactly zero Christmas parties. Today I went to visit my parents and did some weeding for them, finishing it off with a nice cup of tea. That was an excellent Christmas week activity. Tomorrow I will host afternoon tea for Rosy and her boyfriend. When I say host, I will bring out the supermarket mince pies. Rosy is bringing fruit. We will have that in the garden because this is how the dining room table looks.

This is the result of a busy Christmas week - busy embroidering (not me), crocheting, reading, drinking tea. Which is, of course, what much of our life looks like, and that is one of the things about Christmas which has always bothered me. Christmas etiquette has us bustling all over the place, buying things, going to parties, visiting all and sundry, and that's nice if you like that sort of thing. I don't, and here I am, forty nine and finally able to admit it. I want Christmas to be about home, and a little peace and quiet..

Yes, I am the Grinch, and I am loving it. Maybe you are spending Christmas a little differently this year, due to all sorts of reasons. Maybe you are hating it, maybe you are loving it. Maybe you are gathering all your clan and neighbours and friends from far and wide, maybe you are home alone. Tell us all how Christmas is for you in this very peculiar year.


simplelife said…
I have always found Xmas a very stressful time,full of have I done enough, made enough, brought enough, am I good enough. This year we are traveling to the other end of the state to have lunch with the kids and their partners at our daughter's house. Finally I dont feel stressed, she is organising it, I'm just bring what I've been asked to bring and I haven't had to decorate or do anything at home. I have put a few special, sentimental things out but that's it. We've had no events to attend, which suits me fine. The only thing I will miss is take away fish and chips eaten sitting in the gutter with my best friend on Xmas Eve while we watch our local parade.
Your day eating a sandwich in the bush sounds perfect to me.
Cheers Kate
Jo said…
Kate, you nailed it - have I done enough, made enough - just now I was thinking that just maybe, tomorrow, I would do some cooking, make some extra things so it's not just a sandwich, and I read your comment and realised, hey, no-one will go hungry, we were going for a simple meal.. it's hard for me to keep Christmas simple.
And well done you for passing on the baton to the next generation! Enjoy your family Christmas! Now I'm getting ideas for next Christmas though, fish and chips in the gutter. I can taste it now. I love a summer evening when it's cooled right down but the pavement is still warm:)
simplelife said…
Don't you make anything tomorrow Jo, a sandwich will be perfect and it will most definitely be enough.
Cheers Kate
Anonymous said…
Christmas threw up in my house. I have decorated with lights, and lots of red, both of which bring me joy. That is the extent of the the holiday for me. I reduced my holiday expectations and stress years ago, and I am a better person for it. Most of my gifts were handmade or consumables, using skills I have been learning these past years.
I enjoy the quiet, and the slow pace and spending time with dear ones.
My daughter and I will share the day, grateful to be with each other.
Be well, my friend.
Merry Christmas!
Jo said…
Kate, I promise!

Patricia - Christmas threw up in my house - that is marvellous! I can absolutely picture it. It is wonderful that you have been able to tease out the traditions that give you joy and embrace them and leave the rest. Your Christmas for two sounds just lovely, although I know you are still waiting for hugs from another daughter..
Anonymous said…
Yes I'm opting out this year. Just our family, no decorations, no worrying that everything has to be 'perfect'. Just going to chill.
Treaders said…
I have always hated putting the tree up - but been very pleased once it was done. This year I have my oldest son living back home with me. His wife sprung a "let's get divorced 'cos I have feelings for someone else" surprise on him in May (he was blind-sided) and he is now divorced and living back in France with me. BUT, I have to say he's ok, making plans for the future and we're bobbing along like two old biddies so that's fine with me. We'll be six on Christmas day at my place and I always make what I want to make as I hate HAVING to make certain things. I'm kinda hoping, though, that this pandemic might make people re-evaluate all the commercialism of Christmas and that the celebrations can get back to more meaningful and peaceful times rather than a consumer blow-out! Merry Christmas Jo!
Jo said…
Anon, yes, 'perfect' is such a trap isn't it? One I frequently try for and fail to achieve. I should start learning that lesson any time now..
Enjoy your chilled family time. Who knows, it may make the best memories of all..

Anna, yeah, you have had a grim year quite apart from the pandemic, haven't you? I applaud your attitude to making what you want - that is kind of what I am going with - I detest cooking, and I like sandwiches:) Have never felt I could quite get away with that before..
And may your Christmas hopes come true:)

Jo said…
Christmas Eve note - I rang Paul last night to discuss sandwich ingredients and champagne requirements etc, and he had completely forgotten we were coming to his. In fact, he had completely forgotten we were doing anything at all for Christmas.
He was quite cheerful that we were coming, he had just.. forgotten. I love that. Christmas, for Paul, is an annoying blip on the calendar where people all go to the shops at the same time and do unaccountable things like put up plastic replicas of trees in their houses and feel obliged to buy each other presents for reasons that are largely unknown:)
Anyway, from the Christmas grinch - Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night xx
Anonymous said…
All the best to you, and yours Jo! Thanks for the friendship of the past years through this blog.
Enjoy your sandwich, champagne and family.
Merry Christmas!
Anonymous said…
If I lived where Christmas came in the middle of summer, I'm sure we would celebrate it totally differently, maybe more like our Fourth of July, with cookouts and watermelon. Our winters are short and cold so I like having a winter festival where there are lights, music and lots of good things coming from the oven. I'm not a huge decorator but we always have a tree freshly cut from our property (which then goes back to the garden for multiple uses). It smells wonderful, and the magic of the Christmas lights never grows old. Merry Christmas!
Mary H
Anonymous said…
This post was so refreshing, Jo. I thought of you in the bush with your family and the sandwiches, and it seemed like a wonderful little celebration, and something I would love to have done. I hope you had a lovely day. All the best.

Linda in NZ
Jo said…
Patricia, it is such a nice little community here, much joy, hilarity and kindness. Thank you, and blessings to you and yours xx

Mary, I love the smell of fresh pine, and I love the smell of dying pine even more. Sort of sweet? Enjoy your lights and baking and the warmth of fires in winter cold.

Linda, it was lovely, peaceful, calm, slow, quiet. Walks in the bush, sandwiches, cake, champagne. Having only my parents, Paul, Red and me gave us all time to talk and enjoy a slow afternoon without distraction. Hope your Christmas was a joy as well x
Meg said…
We packed up our old ute and took off from the mainland in early December. We only went a couple of hours away, to an island in the bay that's relaxed and peaceful and beautiful, but it's a world away from the shops and the piped in carols and the crowds. Didn't get back home til Xmas Eve and found this to be a rather lovely avoidance strategy. It sounds like you had yourself a rather lovely idea for how you wanted to spend your Christmas time; bushwalks, sandwiches and cake sound pretty damn fine to me. Meg
Jo said…
Meg, love your Christmas panic avoidance strategy! It's odd, isn't it. It seems that so many people find the holiday exhausting and overwhelming as practised, and yet we keep on doing it, year in, year out..

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