Warm open fires, children singing happily and families spending time together blissfully are the images of Christmas we see on TV. It’s a time where couples feel closer together, people repent over the mistakes they’ve made and everyone is in harmony. Right? Wrong. The truth is Christmas can highlight areas of life that aren’t so great. We are expected to have magical moments, which often don’t exist especially for those of us who have lived through divorce, death or feel like the oldest singleton in town.
So how to survive the festive season?
- Christmas can be a time of financial stress. I think it’s quite a human response to sometimes feel short-changed if someone hasn’t spent as much on you or embarrassed when the reverse happens. However, spend what you can afford and recognise other people are doing the same. We generally all have what we need and anything else is just a bonus.
- Recognise your boundaries. I spent nearly every Christmas in my 30s lying in a single bed and reverting to the feelings I had as a teenager. I had one particularly bad year and realised that I also had choices around how I spent my time too. I didn’t need to put up with someone else’s negative behaviour for the sake of keeping the peace.
- Don’t drink too much. Tempers can start to flare after too much alcohol and thinking about how much you’re drinking can help stop any arguments from starting. Keeping off the drink also helps you sleep better. It means you’re not snappy, much more willing to help out and generally easier to be around.
- You are not a teenager anymore. There is something about setting foot into my mum’s house that makes me 16 again. I didn’t have a particularly stable childhood and those feelings of insecurity and inadequacy come flooding back. It’s easy to feel resentful and to want to raise issues that happened decades ago. However, I’m not 16 anymore, nothing is going to change and in the words of Frozen, ‘Let it Go’.
- Create your own traditions. I have my own family now and Christmas has taken on a different meaning. I want my son to grow up making memories of Christmas that are meaningful and special.
- Remember Christmas is only one day. We place so much importance on it and really it’s literally one day out of 365.