Firstly I think it is important to outline that I love Christmas so I feel like a bit of a fraudster writing this. Nonetheless, I appreciate that it can be a very difficult time for some people which is why I wanted to reach out to you if you are one of them. Without meaning to, I think that Christmas puts everything on stilts. It exaggerates every feeling you may or may not have and there is a huge expectancy on people to be in jolly spirits and to have a positive mind frame which isn’t always attainable. Christmas or not, it is okay not to be okay. Christmas doesn’t automatically mean that the daily struggles we all face and deal with cease to exist. No matter what you are going through you are not obliged to be happy just because it is Christmas. It doesn’t make your problems any less significant. You don’t have to be brimming with Christmas cheer and skipping around the streets with joy and merriment. It is okay to be annoyed, to cry, to get home from work and not want to speak to anyone. If this speaks to you focus on self-care, focus on treating yourself well, show yourself kindness compassion and love. Remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is a magical time of year but it brings sadness too so keep an eye out for those who might need it the most.
Often what causes the most distress for people is looking back over the year and perhaps not feeling as though they accomplished all that they thought they would. Let this be a stark reminder that milestones don’t have to be things like a proposal, a promotion, a baby, a pay rise. They can instead be healing a hurt, learning from a mistake, taking the plunge and getting counselling or support, coming to terms with old wounds, growing your sense of self-worth, battling an illness, working on your mental health and ultimately just being a kind person. Don’t let yourself be in comparison with the portrayed perfect life that we are all witnessing on social media.
There is also a huge anxiety to be a ‘whole new perfect person’ in January. While some people use this as motivation to make some changes they would like, others feel an immense pressure. The burden to always feel like you have to be moving forward and achieving new things can feel extremely daunting and can add to the Christmas anxiety so many experience. Please don’t forget that you are perfect the way you are. You are enough. You don’t need to change to feel happy. I am all for setting goals to feel accomplished but the best things that really works is being true to yourself because you can never fail at being you. Always remember, No one is you and that is your power!
Loneliness is one that also comes up a lot. Don’t forget though that at times in our life we can be surrounded by a room full of people and still feel lonely. There is no one solution to this but if you are feeling isolated, I encourage you to start saying yes to volunteering or helping out in places where people have no one to spend the holidays with.Get involved though don’t settle for sitting on the sidelines. You are valuable and loved.
If there is someone you have lost throughout the year, I don’t think there is anything that I or anyone else can say to take away the pain or make Christmas any easier for you. I am truly sorry and hope that you will find opportunities to remember your loved ones this Christmas.
My own experience of Christmas is very positive, not because they have necessarily always been easy but because I have always really appreciated being able to just slow down and reboot for the year ahead. As our family is so small just Mammy and I we have mostly had Christmases just us two. Thrown into the mix have been times in which we have spent it with our extended family and two Christmases ago with Ian’s family which was magical.
I will never forget the first Christmas that I went to Ian’s house for a few hours on Christmas day. Ian’s mother has eleven siblings and I was so overwhelmed by all the people. It was the opposite of what my experience was growing up but I soon began to love the contrast that both our families bring.
A Christmas that will always stick out in my mind is Christmas three years ago when my mother was having treatment for Breast Cancer. I spent it in France with her and her Husband’s family which was strange in itself without even contemplating the impact of what my beloved mammy was facing. When Cancer is in the room it strips everything back to its core. I think that particular Christmas had a profound effect on us all. I expected that it would be a really difficult bleak Christmas, but in all honesty it was genuinely one of my favourite ones. It was a really difficult time in general but I feel that year I really learnt the true value and meaning of Christmas. Deirdre was quite far into her treatment at that stage and was weak from the cumulative effect of it. Being the resilient lady that she is, she powered through put on a brave face and even enjoyed some Christmas dinner. I remember looking around the room and feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude that we had made it that far. This gratitude extended out to the joy and simplicity in the value of just being able to be in each other’s presence and enjoy one and other’s company. The realisation that it is the people around the table that are the most valuable gifts is a stark reality. We now see anything else as a bonus.
Over that Christmas period we really just enjoyed the simple things like, reading, going on little walks, doing jigsaws and chatting. Ian came to France for New Years and it was so magical to have him there. He brought a renewed energy to us all and we continued to enjoy the few days after Christmas. The neighbours lent us bikes and we explored all that little Brielles had to offer stopping at the local patisserie to bring home croissants which Ian was a big fan of. A memory that really sticks out is New Year’s Eve. As Deirdre went to bed early we all got into this habit also. I could hear Christophe (Mam’s Husband) listening to a programme with the New Year’s count down on it. Just as they were about to shout ‘one’, Christophe turned off the TV. Ian and I burst out laughing because it was just so reflective of the time we were in. One that was far from normal but a time that still had its little rays of sunshine. I ran down to mam and gave her a big New Year’s Hug and fell asleep to the sound of fireworks in the distance. It was a lovely way to spend New Year’s and proved to me that just because times are simple doesn’t mean that they are any less valuable. It made me always appreciate my blessings. I bring a part of this Christmas into each of them now and look back with fondness for the kindness, love and care we each received from our little community of friends in France.
I guess my reason for sharing this to illuminate that Christmas is not always fairy-tale like but if you look hard enough there is always a sprinkle of magic you can tune into if you choose to. Remember that everyone experiences difficult times by just being human so you are not alone. If you have trepidations about the upcoming festive season, try to focus on what is really important and treat yourself with kindness. A year can change a lot so appreciate what you have. If you find yourself in an abundance of love, company and fulfillment, enjoy it. Similarly, if your Christmas isn’t full of warmth and love this year, know that your turn will come and it won’t always be like this. Just like the ocean life is a constant ebb and flow.
If you have gotten this far, I hope you enjoyed reading this and that it instills a renewed mind frame about the true meaning and value of Christmas. I wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who took the time to read my ramblings and to give me such lovely feedback.
Thank you and Happy Christmas !