Traditionally the Christmas season is the twelve days after Christmas, not the period of preparation beforehand - that is Advent.
Church traditions try to make Advent out to be all about seriousness and self-denial, but that is really less true to the Bible stories than the modern approach of stress and rush and pressure. Consider a newly-married couple trying to cope with advanced pregnancy, major family issues, and Roman occupiers forcing them to travel across the country to an area primed and ready to take commercial advantage of their need. Modern commercialism and exploitation in Britain are probably but a shadow of their Bethlehem predecessors.
I enjoy Christmas, its colour and its excitement, and the concern for others which always manages to break through the materialism and excess. I also struggle with it: deadlines and pressure are no good at all with CFS. By the time I get to bed on Christmas Eve (technically Christmas Morn) I am always physically and mentally wrecked, and usually in the process of succumbing to some nasty bug or other. Luckily I have a daughter who always gets into the spirit of excitement, and an immediate family who get on with one another and actually like being together.
My Christmas morning tends to be heavily structured: awake at stupid-o'clock to look at stockings, downstairs for much-needed coffee and a first round of presents, then preparing the turkey and putting it in the oven, before heading off to church, as a family, to welcome the Christ-child into the world, and finally doing the rest of the Christmas lunch. I am in no state to stress about the meal by this point, and it's only for immediate family and friends anyway so not so much pressure, so that's relatively peaceful.
I recognise that I am extremely fortunate.
Then we get to the traditional Christmas season for me: a time to rest and recover, short visits to wider family, and thoughts of Mary and Joseph, with Jesus safely arrived, forced to take a pause and to wonder.
It is only a pause, of course, there are still consequences to deal with. Somehow Mary and Joseph have to make peace with their relatives in Bethlehem, their 'family town'. Not to mention dealing with the evil fallout from Herod's tyrannical insecurity. But for now they must rest.
I will have to do something about my badly battered credit card, and there is a lot of travelling still to do. But for now I must rest. I have new music, books and an immediate family who are great; it's the season to take time out and enjoy them.
And give thanks.