For the first couple of days of the Christmas holidays, I had a middling sized case of stomach gripes - which gave me an excuse to stay in bed a bit longer than normal, but wasn't very pleasant. Christmas lunch was great, but the next few meals after that were a bit of a non-event. It's becoming the norm that part of my body conks out in the first couple of days of the Christmas holidays, which isn't really something I want to keep up for the next 25 years.
During December there were roughly 20 Christmas events, ranging from some songs and a prayer with the pre-school, to carol services which I had to plan, lead, and preach at. Plus a wedding blessing, a baptism, the normal round of Sunday services, pastoral work, meetings, and the long-delayed Tidying of the Study.
I'm not sure if it's the holiday itself, where my body goes 'at last, a chance to crash!', or something physiological. It can't be great to have a series of 15-20 adrenaline/stress peaks over the course of a month, though I guess anyone acting in the theatre, or gigging regularly, has to do the same. However, they don't have to do a normal days work around it.
1. Reduce the number of Christmas services I do either delegate a few more (though that's limited, some people want A Vicar), or drop a few from the schedule.
2. Have a week off prior to December to give myself enough battery power to arrive at December 25th still recognisably human. Ok, but there's only so much holiday available per year, and there are more enjoyable times of the year than late November. In fact, pretty much any time of the year is more enjoyable than late November.
3. um, ?
4. Find out what works for other people with an adrenaline chart which looks like the Lake District.
I find that 'routine' services - communion, evening prayer etc., where 95% of it is set down for you, someone else has chosen the hymns, etc. take less out of me, though there's still the challenge of bringing them alive and making the words of the prayers into prayers, rather than recitations. But that's not so easy during Christmas - most of the services aren't 'routine', by their very nature, and most of the people I'm preaching to aren't a familiar congregation, so trying to craft a talk that will amuse/appeal/challenge/inform/linger in the memory is one of the biggest challenges of the year. All the more so if you've got to come up with several talks, all on the familiar Christmas theme, which light the story from such a new angle that people snap out of the daydream and open their eyes a little wider.
This isn't a whinge, I really enjoy Christmas, but I'd love to enjoy it more. Not to be so tired, to be able to give 100% on each occasion rather than the 80, 70, 60% I've got still in the tank. And I'd also like to have enough in the tank that my family don't spend Christmas week waiting for Dad to become bearable again.