It is upon us.
The insurmountable pressure to be happy about everything, normal won’t do, it has to be absolute unadulterated enthusiasm about all things ‘Christmassy’ and that can range from who does the best mince pies to this year’s John Lewis ad. When that first advent calendar door opens… BOOM. You better have a smile on your face for the next 25 days, attend everything your invited to, wear a Christmas jumper to work, join in Secret Santa, embarrass yourself at the Christmas party, OR ELSE!
Let the Festive Fakery begin….
People are always surprised to hear that I don’t like Christmas, that I wont be going to the Christmas ‘doo’, I don’t have a Christmas jumper and I won’t belting out Mariah Carey at any given opportunity. ‘Bah humbug’ you might say, and believe me people do, the reaction of some people when they realise you are not going to indulge them in 30minutes of ‘what you are doing for Christmas?’ chat , its like you have just told a 3 year old Father Christmas doesn’t exist (which he obviously does, so you obviously wouldn’t)
Christmas doesn’t make me miserable, I don’t spend the whole of December going out of my way to be grumpy. I am my normal self. I still smile and laugh, I just don’t develop a flood of exhausting enthusiasm that turns me into some crazed Christmas maniac for a month. I find the whole thing completely and utterly unnerving. I see people turning before my eyes as the weeks roll on, friends and family members, my eldest brother is one, every smile, every comment, reaction, facial expression becomes subject to ridiculous levels of scrutiny and you better match up to his expectation of Christmas jollyment and be glittering disco bauble of enthusiasm or your f*cked, and so is Christmas.
‘Be nice’.. Its Christmas!
I haven’t any traumatic memories that have led me to feel this way and nor is it a slight on my family, not at all. I love my family but I don’t love them more just because its Christmas Day. I don’t suddenly have a huge realisation that actually I haven’t appreciated them all year but now, on this day, I realise how much they mean to me. I think if I was totally honest I have never been very good at conforming or doing or saying things because ‘its just what people do’, and I have never understood the need to make the dysfunctional, function and ‘make nice’ just because its Christmas.
How many times do you hear of people being forced together, staying together, or getting back together for the Festive season? It’s the skeleton of every script for the soap opera christmas special!
The family members who don’t get on, they never will get on of course but are resigned to doing this dance every year. The distant friends who tolerate each other, brought back together, their passive aggressive digs at one another getting less passive and more aggressive with each glass of red wine they nervously plough through. The couple who split up in July get back together but diligently keep all the receipts for the gifts they will be fighting over taking back in January, and then there is the husband and wife, he is pulling out the grand gestures like a magician pulling rabbits out of a hat, trying to mask over yet another year of indiscretions and she dutifully plays along, once again, desperately trying pull together perfection to save face and just grateful that she can stop checking his Sat Nav history, well until normal service resumes in the New Year of course.
Relax and Enjoy (isn’t that what you are supposed to be doing?)
Twelve years ago I spent the festive season in Cape Town, it was lovely and getting some Winter sun there is something I have continued to do off and on ever since, another year I flew to Vegas on Christmas day, by the time I got there Christmas was over, then it was my birthday, then we flew back, that was an interesting 48 hours and a rather painful flight back..but I cant possibly expand further because we all know ‘what happens in Vegas….. ‘!. Neither was any better or any worse because we did it ‘on’ Christmas but it was very nice to be able to avoid the hype, and the very apparent tension that fills the air the closer you get to ‘the day’.
All that being said, I am feeling more relaxed about it all this time around than I have for a while, well certainly the last couple of years. I have just had some time off , it was a wonderfully special time and I think that helped greatly. It was never intended to be a ‘Christmassy’ time, but of course you cannot go to any large city in December without feeling like you are being swept up into a Winter Wonderland, and I have to say I enjoyed every moment, Christmas markets, Chocolate marshmallows, Mulled wine, Twinkling lights, Festive fizz and frolics!. It had it all, and I went with it all. I gave into Christmas (for a short time!) and I loved every minute!
I was also reminded recently of how much of a magical a time it is for Children when talking to my brother. I am surrounded by little people who cannot wait for this bearded man in red suit to come down the chimney, they have already started dressing up as elves, kings, fairies and singing carols for no reason whatsoever at any time of day and it reminded me how lucky I am to be able to have them on the doorstep at this time in my life and be able to share the magic with them, I haven’t always had that privilege and I might not in the future, so I am looking to soak it all up and enjoy every moment of their little faces.
The last thing I will say about this crazy little month of festive frivolity is be kind to yourself, especially if you are struggling with any kind of mental health issue. I know from experience that this time of year can magnify what you are feeling and really take you down a bad road. Just remember to keep working on yourself and do what is right for you for the longer term not just for the next few weeks. It will all be over soon, and I for one am pleased that this year my inner peace and happiness isn’t the kind that is going to come crashing down with the Christmas decorations!.
With lots of love …. actually… (couldn’t resist that)