In 2010, a study in the UK by the Trade Union Congress showed that the number of people ‘officially’ at work on the big day had jumped by 78% in eight years – with about 172,000 workers on duty (evenly matched across men and women).
These are the formal figures. Considering that only three years later we are even more immersed in the relentless pursuit of remaining switched on and – perhaps more to the point – relentlessly chasing ‘the perfect lifestyle’ twenty four seven – as well as wanting and needing essential providers such as hospitals and emergency services – is it inevitable that a time to stop and reflect and just enjoy a day of joy with our families and loved ones will become meaningless?
Whether Christmas is a day of religious significance or not for you personally, it is an opportunity to take a deep breath. Those who have no choice but to work – and I think of our wonderful defence forces, doctors, nurses, and yes, wait staff at restaurants catering to the culinarily challenged! – for them, the day has to shift sideways. But for those of us fortunate enough to have a break, it is essential to actually do so.
Celebrate your achievements. Think about what you want to change in the year to come. Enjoy the little moments of the day, whether they come from your children, partner, extended family or friends. Switch off completely.
Think of it this way, perhaps. It is Christmas, so you are naturally giving presents to everyone you care about. And as a woman of worth, you naturally should care about yourself – so give yourself a gift as well; the gift of a day off. Yes, you are quite likely cooking, and clearing up ten thousand tonnes of wrapping paper, and quite possibly using two fingers to take a half chewed ornament from the dog’s throat; but that’s a part of the day.
Don’t switch on the laptop. Don’t check ‘just one e-mail’. Because it won’t be just one, and another Christmas will have slipped by.
If you love what you are doing, it is natural to want to think about it all the time. But it also makes it even more essential to take time away from it; because familiarity does, as the old saw goes, breed contempt. This is a perfect chance to clear your mind and raise a glass of champagne to you – to allow yourself the opportunity to say ‘yes, I did a great job, and next year will be even better and bigger’.
Don’t be a Grinch this Christmas. Change your own game by choosing to give yourself a precious day of peace – and perhaps at the same time, raise a second glass of champagne to those who do have to man the lifeboats.