Christmas is imminent, which means it’s time for an annual argument with my mother. I should probably say ‘debate’ to make it sound less confrontational, but it tends to get quite heated. The…ahem…discussion goes something like this:
Mum: Christmas is all about religion, Jesus, Christianity and other bible stuff…
Me: Christmas is all about the sun dying and is only related to Christianity because God hijacked the holidays from the Pagans to trick them into worshiping him.
I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the basic gist of it.
You see, my mum is a Methodist Minister and I am…at a stretch…a Buddhist.
Mostly I just believe in balance and the great cosmic power of ‘the universe’.
So growing up as the daughter of a minister was a little difficult for me, because we disagreed about pretty much everything.
Christmas is the big one. And because it’s a time for family and celebration and a lot unnecessary (but oh, so tasty!) food there’s generally no avoiding having that conversation. For those of you not well versed on pre-Christian history, let me explain…
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How God Hijacked The Holidays
My take on the holidays and the true meaning of Christmas differs greatly to my mother’s.
Originally, Christmas was a pagan (literally meaning ‘not Christian’) festival to celebrate the shortest day of the year.
By the old calendar, that was December 25th.
The pagans believed the sun died every winter, and lit huge bonfires to warm it and revive it for the year to come. Many of the traditions so familiar to us now, from Christmas trees (evergreen boughs symbolising eternal life in a season of death), to the candles (now the far-safer fairy lights bedecking our trees, symbolising the life-giving sun), are actually pagan in origin.
When Christianity first started to spread they wanted to celebrate the birth of Christ (sorry to tell you, that either happened in March or September), and they also wanted to convert the pagans to their new religion.
Pagans were celebrating the birth of the sun on December 25th with much festivities and a holiday they loved.
So the Christians…erm…hijacked the holiday and began celebrating Christmas on the same day.
This helped people transition from one set of beliefs (a great pantheon of deities and many varied and nuanced traditions) to another (the belief in a single God and the teachings of Christ).
I would like to be very clear than I’m not point this out to criticise Christianity, Christianity, God or Christmas.
It’s simply a historic fact.
For some reason my mother dislikes it when I point this out…
The True Meaning Of Christmas
So what’s the true (or perhaps I should say, original) meaning of Christmas then, if not the celebration of the birth of Christ?
For me, Christmas is about the world winding down for the year in preparation for an epic year to come. Winter brings the cold, the dark, a time to hibernate and reflect.
Much as the ancient pagans built huge bonfires to lend strength to the sun so it could return for another year, Christmas and New Year are times for replenishing your reserves and building yourself up with warmth and light, so you return stronger next year.
Come New Year we all look back on the year that’s ending and plan for the year to come. I’ll be posting next week about the goals I set for 2017, how I’ve achieved them, and the various ways I’ve invested in my business (and myself!) over the last twelve months.
But for now, I thought I’d tell you how I decided to spend Christmas this year.
Addressing The Things That Drained Me This Year
Part of this hibernation process is looking at the things that have been draining you through the year, and figuring out how to address them in the year to come.
Between my health issues and the massive growth in my business this year, it’s been an extremely busy and stressful one for me.
Next year I’m hoping to achieve a zen-like state of bliss.
Without the doubt the biggest business drain on me throughout the year has been the vlog.
At the end of 2016 I spent a week batching video content in preparation for launching my new vlog, which launched the first week in January. This worked spectacularly well for the first three months of the year, when I ran out of pre-recorded videos.
The next six months was a mad scrabble trying to record a video every week on the fly. There were some weeks I managed to get organised and batch content for two or three weeks at a time, but otherwise it was an extremely stressful experience.
I really enjoy creating my own content. I love coming up with ideas, I (naturally!) adore writing it, and recording the vlogs was really good fun when I did it over Christmas.
The rest of the year though, it sucked.
This was in very large part due to the fact I didn’t have an autocue/teleprompter and couldn’t read out a pre-written script. I tried writing out what I wanted to say and recording it by reading a few sentences at a time but it just didn’t work.
As a result every video I recorded this year was done off-the-cuff, and my writer’s brain didn’t like dealing with that. It led to marathon recording sessions as I verbally edited what I was saying, with videos that ended up being 20 minutes or less taking several hours to record.
Then I had to edit them.
And because I didn’t have a written version I had to get them transcribed, which means editing the transcripts too.
Overall it was a monumental time-suck, and while the vlog has been absolutely amazing for business in terms of SEO and lead generation this year, the amount of time it was taking wasn’t sustainable.
Why I’m Spending Christmas Batching Content
The situation has to drastically change next year, so I blocked off three weeks from December 22nd to January 14th and determined to batch all my content for 2018 so it was ready to go from the start of the year.
Not only does this take a lot of pressure and stress off me, it means my team can get a lot more organised with Faye (my PA) and Liz (my social media manager) having the content waiting to go every week. No more chasing me at the 11th hour, and if they prefer to do things in batches rather than handling one post a week, they can.
So if you’re wondering what I’m up to over Christmas and the three weeks I’m awol, I’ll be writing and then recording a full year’s worth of vlogs created – 56 in total – so that my main content has been created and I can get the videos scheduled in.
I’ll then know exactly which posts need content upgrades and freebies creating for them and will be able to get those written, sent to my graphic designer, created, and sent to Robyn (my fabulous technical assistant) to hookup and integrate with my sales funnel.
Spending the Christmas break batching your content for New Year is a hugely productive way to make life a hell of a lot easier on yourself for the next 12 months!
By the end of January my whole content schedule for the year will be completely done.
Do you have any earthly idea how much time that will free up for me next year?
Next year I won’t have to create my own content, because it will already be done.
That will mean the ability to take on even more clients and/or create additional content.
Coming In 2018…
Who’s up for an eCourse version of The Divine Blogging Design?
You know, so you can do this content marketing lark all on your own?
Well, guess what…
The end of February will see the release of Divine Blogging THE BOOK, followed soon after by The Divine Blogging Academy.
So for those of you who’ve been following me for a while and drooling over the thought of an all-singing, all-dancing, phenomenally powerful content marketing strategy…. Those of you who email asking if there’s a cheaper way for me to do it for you… There will soon be an incredibly easy and low-cost way for you to learn exactly how to do it all for yourself!
As if that wasn’t enough to look forward to, there will very soon be a shiny new website up and running, HAZZAH!
I’ll keep you updated on the progress being made on that. In the meantime keep your eyes peeled for the preview chapter of Divine Blogging, which will be available FOR FREE in the New Year.
And regardless of what the season means to you, or how you choose to celebrate it, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas…