Christmas

Christmas Tip Pick and Mix

I asked my real and online friends what their tips would be for Christmas: to enjoy it, get through it, or get around it. Whichever way you look at it Christmas is a time of year when we can feel overwhelmed by our own expectations of the day or our fears of how it may be different from previous ones. Take a breath, make a cup of tea, or pour yourself a glass of cava and enjoy these tips from this selection of wise folk who have all been there, and done that in one way or another.

christmas-border-1072990_1920

Be proactive

Maria van Boxtel: As many people I always miss my family and friends this time of the year a bit more than any other period. So I decided to do something different this year and make an open invitation to everyone to celebrate Christmas together. I believe when you are celebrating together it makes it easier to handle the feeling of missing your loved ones. I’m looking forward to meet people who I have never met before and have fun instead of being at home feeling miserable.

Sandra Piddock: Focus on the good memories from previous years – celebrate them and talk about them, because that’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit, even if you don’t feel like it. And invite someone who would otherwise be alone. But make it someone you like, so you have a good chance of enjoying the day. It works – I’ve done it several times, and never regretted it.

Julie Brogan:  If you’re alone try asking around your social group if anyone wants to join you for the day. I did it last year we had a great time: 14 of us in total so we had a very merry and fun time.

Remember the Christmas story

Anne Kay: Don’t give up on the original religious reason.

Don’t max out your credit card

Sandi Oakley: Don’t overspend…it’s the thought that counts! Just do your best, no more should be expected of you or others!

Sue Carmichael: Keep to budget…..never overspend or you’ll start New Year depressed ’cause of debt!

Mara RV: Don’t give so much importance to giving presents, we don’t need more things, we need more love.

Saskia Griffiths: Presence vs Presents.

Melody Fennell: B R E A T H E….and Love.

 Pick up the phone

Graham Wilding: For expats being remote from family is upsetting, especially for those without the ability to use today’s technology…messenger, SKYPE etc.

Sandi Oakley: If you can’t get to be with friends and family make sure you talk on the phone over the Christmas – especially to young grandchildren – it will cheer you up and the children will make you laugh!

Take control of your emotions

Patricia Hartland: Decide to be happy.

Keep it in perspective

Lesley Keith: I’d tell those who dread it that it’s just one day and will soon pass.

Rachel Nicholson:  I do think it’s good to remember it’s just one day, and before you know it it’ll be here and gone. It can be, and is, a very difficult time for a lot of people. I lost my Mum not long before Christmas 2014, my Mum Loved Christmas..the only way I know how to get through it is to try and enjoy it, that is what she would have wanted.

Philip Rogan:  It’s something really important that you are addressing because for many it really is the worst time of the year. I think that some people like some of the above make an effort to put people together and that makes a big difference. In your own head try not to give it all too much importance and know that the “festivities” will come to an end soon enough and that normality will return. Obviously, for some people, it’s simply the “best” time of the year and they love it. Avoid these people at all costs!! I do think that it’s an important issue that you are writing about, a tip, take it easy and focus on work or your regular hobbies as per normal as much as possible. Give or allow yourself one day to enjoy it, treat yourself and a friend to something nice.

Make contact

Cassian Edward: I think the most important tip you can add, if it hasn’t been suggested already, is some sort of helpline and/or communication avenue for those that find themselves on their own at this time of year, helping to put them in touch with others who understand their predicament and with whom they can talk to and enable spirits to be raised. There are so many out there that have no family; are on their own in some way; and for whom Christmas is a time of isolation. A means to allow people who are lonely at this time of year to communicate or be with others is something that can make life so much more liveable and bearable.

Michelle Whenman: Visit people you know who will be alone. Loneliness affects all ages.

Do something else

Laura Anne-Marie:  I would advise if you are feeling upset that you don’t put on a bunch of Christmas feel good movies, maybe get some fresh air and do some exercise or distract yourself with a project like sorting out your clothes, what you don’t wear you can donate to Allen Graham Charity.

Helen Comben: Remember it really is only another day in the year .. and the world will not fall apart if you opt out of all the trimmings or even work the day.

Glenda Stirling-Langan: If you are not up for crimbo for whatever reason and are not wanting to do the social thing, avoid all media, start a good Netflix series and, or book trilogy and get those rainy days jobs sorted. Achieve. If you are up for crimbo embrace it, avoid negative media, plan your Christmas to include seeing everyone you want to. Keep an eye on your spending. Overall remember, it only really lasts a couple o days.

Get out and about

Angie Wallace: Foster a dog.

 Alternatively, stay in

Caroline Trevill: Another thought for those on their own is to say embrace it! You can spend the day in your pjs, eat as many mince pies as you want without judgement and don’t have to put up with annoying family members.

Eva Marie Burns: Stay in bed.

Lilly Rose: Stay in bed ear plugs and sleep from 24th till 26th December.

Birgitta Nilsson: Going to bed and stay in bed 3 days . Just a normal weekend mode.

 Do what makes you happy

Belinda Shaw: Be with the people that you want to be with (if you can) and if that is yourself then whatever keeps you happy – I am one of those people who goes with the flow – but am as happy having a Marmite sandwich at home in front of the tv or an Xmas meal with friends – depends on how I am feeling. I have had people invite me to join them because they cannot imagine spending the holidays alone – but to me it is a day like any other day just with a few presents to open if I am lucky!!

Lesley Harris: Don’t force old traditions on your new lifestyle (expats) embrace your local restaurateurs, neighbours, co-workers, and those who are present at this time. If you’ve chosen to live differently, snag a few buddies here and do it differently!

Val Eyckmans Godbehear: I don’t live an expat lifestyle but we always celebrate Christmas in the typical British way and all the Spanish and other nationalities in the family love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t think it’s a matter of just taking on the Spanish way of living but of sharing our way with them too.

Sean Herdman-Low: Do what makes you happy- don’t feel pressured into attending events or things that you can’t face. It can be a busy time of year and it’s important to put it into perspective.

Be realistic

Roberta Longo: Manage your expectations against your reality.

Embrace gratitude

Joyce Checketts: Just be thankful you made it to Christmas 2017 as many we know didn’t – happy Christmas.

Nicola Jane Grieve: There’s always someone worse off than you!!!

Take a dip

Belinda Shaw: Come to El Toro Beach on Xmas morning and watch the mad dogs and Englishmen taking a dip… That is always fun and free. There’s usually mulled wine or some other beverage being shared as well as laughs.

Take the opportunity to disconnect

Humphrey Carter: Throw the TV out of the window and enjoy some quality time with friends and family.

Caroline Trevill: Focus less on perfect and more on fun. If you’re fortunate enough to have people you love to spend Christmas with, then don’t spend your energy worrying about whether your tree is wonky or whether you mince pies are from Waitrose. Plan some games and make some fun memories.

Take it easy on the turkey

Claire Jeffery: Don’t eat animals. Be lovely to people.

Do your prep beforehand

Laura Stadler: I find best to prepare as much as possible the day before, not to be too ambitious and warn everyone not to expect me to be a domestic goddess… I’m definitely NOT!!

Keep your sense of humour

Fiona Pitt-Kethley: I once said Xmas is a four-letter word in an article and the Telegraph altered it to Christmas, which isn´t…

Escape

Lucy Dundas: We have cut our expenditure on gifts in favour of a holiday together..the memories of those last much longer than the gifts nobody remembers a few days after. Time together and experiences are priceless.

Fiona Hanks: When I was running expeditions I often happened to be in non Christian countries in December … that makes Christmas pretty uneventful and easy!

Sharon Grange: Get on a plane and go on holiday, better than spending money on presents!

Daniella Melanie B: Go away on holiday!!! Somewhere far away and just ignore Christmas!

Keep calm

James B Rieley:  In times of stress or chaotic things all around, perhaps the best thing to do is follow the red-poster’s advice from the war….Keep Calm and Carry On.

Julie Waller: Use insight timer to find a meditation or two that you like. Be fully present and enjoy the season.

Take some time out alone

Heather Donahue: Solitude is solid food.

Be prepared for the Christmas hangover

Saskia Griffiths: Apple cider vinegar for hangovers!

Offer help to others

Rosemary Grainge: Yes….don’t just enjoy yourself… Get out and about and help others less fortunate… Volunteer.

Caroline Trevill: Instinctively it feels like the best cure for loneliness might be to help others somehow. Whether volunteering somewhere or reaching out to other people who might be on their own. I’d like to think other people would be aware of people on their own and invite them in, but I suspect that’s just wishful thinking.

Gem Alexander: If you know any single mums, volunteer to watch their kids for a few hours at some point during the festive season just so they can get their Xmas wrapping done.

Tracy Courtney-Wills: if you are lonely at Christmas, best thing you can do is volunteer with a charitable organization helping to feed the homeless or needy. You get to be part of a great team of people for the day, feel needed and part of something, realise there are people worse off than yourself, hopefully have a genuinely good time in the process and go home feeling a warm glow inside.

Illustrated Christmas Plants Twitter Post

So, with all of this in mind, good luck, I hope you have fun, stay true to how you want to celebrate or not, and I will see you on the other side. Merry Christmas, Vicki xxx

Advertisements

Christmas Survival

Xmas Tree Bauble

It’s happening, it’s here. The main event if you’re to believe the hype. Can it possibly live up to the expectations? Well perhaps we should measure our expectations to make sure that we can get through the next week or so with the least amount of stress. I’ve been reading around the subject of “Christmas Survival” and there’s plenty of articles out there on the web which can give you some ideas, but if you don’t have the time, here’s my round up of the best.

Blog Photo - Back to School 3

Don’t try and do everything

If you are responsible for cooking and hosting the Christmas Day activities, then don’t take it all upon yourself. Ask other family members to bring different parts of the meal, such as snacks, salads or desserts – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make sure you have some time for YOU, even if it’s just allowing yourself to watch one special TV show that you really want to see.

Everything in moderation

Christmas seems to be all about excess – but there is not much enjoyment in feeling the size of a padded Santa suit or as stuffed as the festive turkey! The best advice is moderation – apply it to everything you eat and drink. Drink moderate amounts of alcohol and try to alternate soft drinks or water with alcoholic ones. As for food, have a bit of what you fancy but try not to stuff your face if you can help it! Difficult I know, but try.

Get active, rehydrate and sleep!dog-christmas-xmas-bulldog-medium

You’ve got to balance your festivities with some time to rest, and recuperate. Active recovery, such as taking a walk in the beautiful landscape of Mallorca is a perfect way to do this. Follow it up with a snooze on the sofa or an early bedtime.

Don’t be on your own

If you are concerned about being lonely over Christmas, either being single or unable to spend it with family, then do something about it now. Think about inviting a few others over who are in the same boat as you and consider offering your house as a venue for the event. Also try not to turn down any invitations to other festive events, provided that you are giving yourself a chance to recover in between!

A final word…

Christmas should be fun but if you find that previous years have not been enjoyable then consider doing something about it – try something different. One way would just be to get away from it all and remove the majority of the hassle from the whole festive experience. Although – we all know how stressful preparing for a holiday can be!

Happy Christmas for me and my family to you and yours. Vxxx http://www.mallorcamatters.com

Dear Father Christmas

hand writing letter

It’s been quite a long time since I last wrote to you, I hope you can forgive me for my silence, I’ve been rather busy being a grown up, and I see now that I have been neglecting you. I’m writing to ask you if I could have a very special present this year: I’d like just one more Christmas with my daughter before she stops believing in you. She asked me last week if you really existed and I had to turn away from her to answer her. “Father Christmas is magical, and if you believe in magic then yes, he does exist”, is what I said. But it’s been hard to believe in magic recently with all of the terrible things that have been going on in the world.

I know most of your letters probably come from much younger correspondents, because as adults we’re supposed to be depending on reality rather than magic as a way of getting things done, but I think I need a bit of help with this. We often choose to be logical, rational, when really we should be allowing ourselves to dream and be carried away with the wonder and amazingness (it’s a word, I looked it up) of the world. And I don’t want my daughter to be drawn down into the adult world so quickly where things are so serious, so relentless and so mean. She’s only just ten, and being a grown up seems to be lasting for a very long time. I don’t want her to be in such a rush to get there.

fire-candle-flame-hearts-medium

So Father Christmas do you think you can help me? Children need magic, and to be honest, I could do with some magic too. I’d like my daughter to have more time being a kid, to have more time to play and have fun. And can you help all the other children as well? My daughter has a great life with so many privileges, but what about the children living in fear, or suffering illness, hunger or poverty? Can you help to light up their lives with a moment of joy, a sparkle of magic? I know that there are charities and organisations in Mallorca collecting frantically for presents for children for Christmas parties: The Allen Graham Charity for Kidz, The Salvation Army, The JoyRon Foundation, the local radio stations as well,  so there are lots of island based Father Christmases doing their best. I must remember to tell people that they can take their donations of gifts to drop off points such as the local charities, or Mood in Portals.              Hearts on Branch                   

Please Father Christmas, it would mean so much to me, and to her, and we’ve both tried very hard to be good this year.

Lots of love to you and Mrs Christmas

Vicki xxx

PS: I’ll leave a mince pie, carrot and wee dram out as usual. The chimney is quite narrow, so you might be better coming through the window.

Shop Local

The Shop Local Pledge

The Shop Local Pledge

Wow, how did it get to be December? That snuck up on me! This is the season of Christmas markets in Mallorca and we´ve got some nice ones coming up. Already last Sunday La Gidg spent the afternoon helping out on the cake stall run by her Synchronised Swimming team at the Andratx Christmas Market. She loved it, well what´s not to love really? It´s cake and it´s playing shop. A perfect combination. There was a time when I used to have a little salon and I loved playing shop too, I loved arranging the products and talking to my customers. It was a very innocent period in my life, looking back. Things were very much simpler then, there was a purity about it. You want this thing that I have? You pay me, you can have this thing. Easy peasy.

There is a dangerous side to fairs though. You always run the risk of buying something that you love at the time, but then regret instantly afterwards, but you can´t take it back can you? NO. You can´t, it’s far too embarrassing. And we must make sure that we support our local businesses and craftspeople especially at Christmas. Please don´t buy online, get down the high street and buy something from an actual real life person and not some automated computer. Keep the money moving in your local economy and look after the people in your community, it´s vital.

I imagine that selling on a market could be a hard way to make your living, but I bet it´s fun. I could see myself as a chirpy cockney type selling discount ladies underwear, or perhaps I could be a mysterious Arab with fine spices and exotic silks. As it is, I am writing this from bed, It is too cold in my house to be anywhere else but here. If I am such a wuss that I can´t deal with a bit of cold in my own home how do we think I would manage rising at 5am and setting up a market stall? Yep, disaster.  Which is why the “Last Minute Handmade Christmas Market” which I am organising at Mood Beach for December 22 and 23 will start at 11am and finish at 4pm, a healthy time during the day. If you want to have a stall then please get in touch at Vicki@moodbeach.com.

Also coming up there is the Calvia Christmas fair which is not in Portals anymore, but has moved to Santa Ponsa, that is on December 9th and will feature the choir in their debut performance! (They´re also going to perform on the 22nd at Mood). Then there is one at Santa Ponsa Country Club the next weekend on the 15th and 16th of December, and the same weekend sees the return of the Alaro Christmas Market as well.

In the meantime I am planning my takeover of the world from under the duvet, at least for today. http://www.familymattersmallorca.com

Saturday December 13th – Dynamics

We went to the local Christmas fair this morning, an ideal place for picking up little knick knacks and bumping into people we haven’t seen in a while. In fact I managed to bump into someone I don’t remember how I even know, but she definately knew me. I kept the conversation going (in Spanish I’ll have you know) whilst trying to figure out a) what her name was, b) how she knew me or indeed c) any tiny clue at all which would mean I could personalise the conversation beyond the mildly interested, ‘And how is your family?’ style of questioning.

I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t manage to identify her, but we wished each other a very merry Navidad and my daughter, Bobo and I walked on our way.

Living in such a small community, after living in London, came as quite a shock to me when I first moved here – I couldn’t get used to people knowing my business, or thinking that it was okay that they knew my business. And sometimes you get too close to someone that you subsequently regret doing it, and occasionally you know that if you bump into certain individuals that there will be words ‘said’. So it was with an anxious heart that I came face to face with a couple who have been avoiding me for a few weeks now: actually, ignoring me would be more accurate. We drop our kids at school, I frantically wave at them and they pretend as if they haven’t seen me as they drive away in their car. Well this time, there was no escape, they had a stall at the fair, and I bluntly, but politely, stood there in front of them until they had to say hello. It went okay, whatever thing it is that they are cross with me about, wasn’t mentioned. I bought something from their stall, gave them an idea for another place they could go to sell their stuff, and left…. feeling rather proud of myself. Have bridges been mended, is it all good now? Who knows, in this little village it can be all smily happy people to your face, whilst behind your back it’s et tu brute and the knife sharpener.

But what else to do except be nice? I don’t know why they have been avoiding me, I don’t know even if it’s just my imagination; perhaps coincidentally they both need visits to the opticians, or is it that I am finally beginning to get close enough to the local village people to be treated as one of them in some cases?

The Mallorquins have an odd personality trait: (which has been confirmed by other Mallorquin friends of mine), even if you know them really well they will not say hello to you first in the street, in the fear that you might snub them or not recognise them. That they will be humiliated by the fact that you did not return the greeting. Interesting that such a tough, resiliant race of people should also be so sensitive.