Happy This Christmas?
You know, it’s okay if you’re not that happy this time of year. What with all the pressure that goes with it, some people find Christmas overwhelming.
If you are one of those folk who love Christmas time and get more and more excited as each day goes by, that’s marvelous! But do spare awareness for those who, unlike you, find the whole Christmas thing pressured and stressful.
You see, with all the ads telling us that this is a happy time, what happens when you aren’t? This conflict between expectations and how people really feel can lead to a great deal of distress. The belief that celebrations have to top what has gone before, that presents must be bigger and better, and that everyone ought to look happy can be overpowering.
Financial hardships aside, there are relationship traumas, family tensions, and anniversaries of tragedies that can compound the sense that we are somehow “wrong” in the context of the Christmas experience. Any one of these can tip us over into acute feelings of loneliness and despair. So, Christmas as we know it, really is a curate’s egg.
Perhaps we could adopt a gentler approach. We could start by turning down the performance pressure from 9 down to 1. Then, consider what we each like to do rather than feel obliged to do because, well, it is Christmas.
There are so many ways we could play it that I believe it’s well worth reflecting on how we celebrate so it is our tradition, rather than the way it is expected. I like seeing people going for leisurely strolls, playing games, helping with preparations, and generally relaxing. It’s definitely a case of exploring the meaning of the experience rather than just observing the event.
Doing Christmas more sensitively lets us tune into those who perhaps aren’t so social, or struggle somewhat with the whole Christmas circus. That surely is a good thing.
But if you are reading this and thinking, “Well we don’t even celebrate Christmas. So this is irrelevant”, swap the Yuletide time with a major celebration of your own and I’m sure it will make more sense.
As it is, we all know that this celebratory time has been completely hijacked by commercial interests. What passes for Christmas in many places today would be considered weird by people from centuries past when it was much more about sharing a holy event.
Knowing that Christmas is both a happy occasion for some and an endurance event for others is relevant to engage well with people this season. For above all the tinsel and festivity, our tenderness is probably the most meaningful present we can share.
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