When I was a child it seemed an eternity from one Christmas to the next. I think most adults look back and remember that feeling. Now it seems we have just packed up the Christmas tree and decorations and it’s time to think about getting them out again. Many people find planning for Christmas stressful, especially that all important Christmas Day meal.
What’s Christmas all about anyway? In the past more people in Australia celebrated Christmas for its Christian significance. This probably meant they went to church at Christmas even if they weren't a regular church goer. These days fewer people have involvement with a church and there are people from other cultures for whom Christmas is not part of their heritage.
Whether a person sees Christmas as a religious celebration or not they are likely to get together with family on Christmas Day if possible. Some people have to juggle things so they get to spend time with various sections of their extended family. Other people have no family or friends to spend time with.
It is easy to pick up the stress vibe over the Christmas season. Even if your Christmas is a small and rather straight forward affair you may find yourself stressing. This could be because other people around you are under pressure. It may help to ask yourself what your Christmas Day entails. Make a list of any food and other arrangements you are responsible for. Once you can see it on paper you may find it is quite manageable. If it isn't, perhaps there are ways you can reduce the stress.
Sometimes we go over the top when it comes to catering for Christmas. How many times have you ended up throwing leftovers away? Just because other people buy twice as much as needed doesn't mean you really have to. Yes, sometimes people get competitive about who can put on the most lavish meal when it’s their turn to play host. That doesn't mean you have to buy into it. Sometimes you may feel pressure from others but perhaps you can start a trend in your circle to make it more relaxed.
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I recently went to a Christmas lunch for the family and friends of residents at an aged care facility. It was a lovely function and not over the top. The staff had organised things so it was relaxed. People could choose to eat indoors or outside under shade that had been erected. The areas were nicely decorated but not overdone.
There were many residents in wheelchairs and big armchairs on wheels to bring out for the meal. However, the staff did not rush the residents but organised things calmly. Hats and sunscreen were applied where extra protection from the sun was needed but it was all done in a relaxed manner.
There were nibbles to partake of until the meal was served. To make it easier to serve, a cold lunch with salads had been chosen. The serves were of a moderate size and the food was suitable for both residents and visitors. People had plenty of time to chat and enjoy time with family or friends. I thought it was a good model of a relaxed enjoyable Christmas meal.
I will keep in mind the lessons I learnt from this Christmas lunch. Make it as relaxed as possible. Keep the meal fairly simple and consider having a cold meal which can be prepared in advance. The important thing is for people, including the host/hostess to have time to chat and enjoy each other’s company.