The post-Christmas slump

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I know. Things have been a bit quiet on the blogging front. I’ve been trying to work my way out of a seasonal malaise I like to call ‘the post-Christmas slump’.

Yes. The post-Christmas slump is most definitely a ‘thing’. You know that flat, let-down, ‘can’t be bothered’ feeling that begins late on Christmas Day and slowly gathers momentum overnight. It saps your energy and enthusiasm for anything that requires getting out of bed or off the couch on Boxing Day and beyond.

For many, it’s payback for eating and drinking too much, partying too hard and sleeping too little in the lead-up.

For others, it’s a natural consequence of sustained work-related busyness and stress. Frantically tying up loose ends before the annual office shutdown. Or last-minute shopping at stupid o’clock to find the perfect gift at a price you can afford, knowing all the while that it will cost 50% less on Boxing Day.

And for parents with younger children, it’s all the above, plus a merry-go-round of end-of-year concerts/graduations/nativity plays/break-up parties in the company of tired, overstimulated little people.

Juggling all this as a sleep-deprived, hungover glutton – now that’s pressure! No wonder we fall in a heap.

But this year, I can’t lay blame for my slump on any of these factors.

Being on sabbatical has unintended benefits. For starters, no pre-Christmas work-related mania and no obligatory schmoozing over canapes and cocktails. When it comes to networking during the silly season, if you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind unless you’re willing to be the party planner. Since I ended my employment, my name has dropped off all manner of guest lists and this year I said ‘f… it!’ to making an effort. I attempted festive catch-ups only with the important people in my life, and when I couldn’t see them, I used the old-fashioned method – I called them. I had firm control of my social calendar and paced myself accordingly. ⭐ for me.

In the absence of work commitments and parenting obligations, I had plenty of time for Christmas shopping. Just as well. The workers, Ty*, Lizzie* and Will*, had first dibs on the family cars and public transport was tricky, so getting to the stores was a challenge. But ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. I planned ahead, purchasing gifts online when I could, and left space in my week for impromptu shopping excursions as and when wheels became available. Another ⭐ for me.

My Christmas baking objectives were also completed with time to spare. On Christmas Eve, I’m usually on my feet all day and half the night, up to my eyeballs in dough and covered in flour, baking shortbread and other goodies for gifting to family members the next day. It’s happened this way so often (despite my best intentions to the contrary) that I’ve come to see it as a Christmas Eve tradition of sorts. But this year, circumstances worked to my advantage. An early December Christmas get-together with the in-laws made it necessary to put the baking schedule on the fast track, taking pressure off at the pointy end of the month. ⭐

So, why the slump? Did I buckle under the weight of gold stars?

In a way, yes.

I love Christmas, or at least my idea of what Christmas should be. Let’s call it my Christmas fantasy. And in that fantasy, our home is adorned with tasteful decorations – worthy of a Home Beautiful spread; gifts are carefully selected, beautifully wrapped and exchanged with delight and appreciation; the Christmas feast is deserving of a Michelin star and enjoyed by all; the conversation is light-hearted and congenial; and the pervading atmosphere is one of gratitude for our privilege and togetherness.

So, everything that comes before is about bringing that fantasy to life. It requires sustained energy, effort and organisation. Yet the Christmas reality is fleeting. Over in a flash. And sometimes falls short of expectations in one way or another. Then follows the let-down. In a sense, it’s the fall that I set myself up for.

This year, there were elements of the Christmas reality that I loved. Working together in harmony with Ty, Lizzie and Will to clean and tidy the house and yard in readiness for our Christmas guests. The shared preparation and enjoyment of a sumptuous feast with loved ones. The relaxed aftermath, including the traditional Christmas Day nap and/or alcohol-fuelled post-feast reflections and revelations. The novelty of hosting a sleepover for my parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew on Christmas night.

But there were elements of disappointment too. Gifts that didn’t quite hit the mark. Misunderstandings that weren’t promptly addressed and resolved. Illness and a level of festive fatigue that dampened the mood of Boxing Day celebrations with the extended family. More importantly, a realisation that others, including those closest to me, have different expectations of what an ideal Christmas should be – their own Christmas fantasy. And that some traditions, which were once wholeheartedly embraced, may no longer hold the same appeal and need a revamp to recapture their significance.

So, I think the slump has been about my mind, body and soul demanding time to recover. From the imbalance triggered by a sustained focus on bringing the Christmas fantasy to life. From the expense of energy over three consecutive days of Christmas festivities and intense family time. And from the disappointment and grief for lost or changing traditions.I’ve needed periods of restorative and peaceful solitude to recharge my batteries. To reflect on the year that was. To chip away, in my own time, at neglected tasks that piled up while I was in full-blown Christmas mode. And to replenish my energy and enthusiasm for the new year ahead.

It’s been a challenge to find and enforce these periods of nirvana, but I’ve had some success. I’m now feeling more like myself and ready to call ‘time’ on the slump. Bring on 2019!

How did you succumb to or avoid the post-Christmas slump?

*names have been changed

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