Christmas. A magical, beautiful time of year. But a time of year that can suffocate you with its magic.
I have some thoughts on the festive season. And I didn’t think I could do a countdown to Christmas on my blog without mentioning how I, and I think a great deal of people, feel. It’s not all happiness and glitter at this time of year; there’s a shade of darkness cast over the festive period for a whole lot of people, and it would be wrong to pretend there’s not. This post is accompanied by some pics of a day I had in Bath with my boyfriend a few weeks ago- a festive day that did in fact lift my spirits, after a few pretty crappy weeks. So Christmas can perk you up, but it’s okay if it doesn’t do that all the time.
We associate Christmas with childhood. As soon as we hit the late teen’s, into our twenties and grow up, we have to spend our lives pretending we know what we’re doing, pretending to be the adults we’re supposed to be and pretending to be serious about life. However, Christmas unlocks the child in all of us and it’s a time of year for regressing back to the good old days, where our biggest worries were ‘how does Santa even fit down our chimney with a belly his size, Mum?’ and ‘are you sure Santa got my letter to the North Pole? Did you post it right?’. The magic of Christmas can be felt by all; it’s the time where we can safely admit that we’re all big kids at heart.
And Christmas brings people together. Those long lost cousins, aunties and uncles you haven’t seen in around a solid year (since last Christmas rolled around), gift giving to charities for those in need and a warm smile to strangers on public transport, Christmas tends to shed us of the usual ‘bah humbug’ mood us lot can tend to have about us during the rest of the year. It’s a tradition celebrated practically the world over, and it’s a time where the world feels a little kinder to us all.
But with festive cheer and all things merry and bright, comes a painful reminder of the darkness. Christmas has a habit of slapping you round the face with everything that is painful, heart breaking and difficult about life. Christmas songs shout that it’s the most wonderful time of the year; everyone else reminds you what a brilliantly festive time they’re having; no Christmas film ever ends with sadness. Because you’re not allowed to be sad at Christmas, right? What could possibly not be anything but happy about the festive season?
At Christmas, we’re forced to break smiles even if we don’t want to. We’re indoctrinated with the rules of Christmas cheer. We’re continually stuck in a cycle of forcing happiness even when we don’t feel like it, which in turn continually reminds us of how unhappy we actually are.
And there are many, many reasons why Christmas isn’t the best time of year, for many, many people. How can we enjoy Christmas dinner with family if the seat of a loved one is left empty? How can we cast aside physical and mental ailments for a few days of pretending everything is perfect in life? How can our problems get magically swept away by Santa’s sleigh if these things affect us day to day, every other season of the year?
Life is not perfect. Happiness is not a destination. Christmas does not mean 24/7, round the clock joy.
And we shouldn’t be made to feel like it should.
Honestly, if you’re struggling at Christmas, you’re made to feel like there’s something wrong with you for not partaking in every festivity with the kind of joy a pantomime hero or heroine would display. And if you’re not partaking in every festivity with 110% cheer, happiness and glitter, you’re reminded instantly that things aren’t tip top in your life right now. And escaping this unhappiness is a no go, because we’re reminded every which way we turn that Christmas apparently means full pelt, exaggerated, overplayed happiness.
Christmas is a crappy time for a lot of us, and can be a crappy time for me, and I didn’t want to spread the festive cheer on this blog without injecting some unadulterated realism into my posts. My Dad passed away in January 2016, so Christmas is not only the run up to the anniversary of his death, but it’s the loss of the complete family time, the traditions and the loved one I miss the most. Christmas hasn’t been and never will be the same for me or my family. We’ve had to soldier on and adapt the way that we celebrate Christmas. It doesn’t always feel like a celebration, because it’s a very upsetting thing to try to celebrate if you’re grieving for someone special that just can’t be there, but we’ve had to try to make the day a celebration of my Dad; a day to honour and remember him. He wouldn’t want us to be unhappy, so we have to try to make the best of it, for him. And if we have to fake it til we make it, then so be it.
I wanted to write this post to be true to what Christmas is. Yes, it’s a magical, beautiful time of year. I visited Bath the other weekend with my boyfriend, and was completely immersed in the Christmas wonderland the city becomes at this time of year. I watched Love Actually with my housemates, and I felt festive. I’ll sit down on Christmas Day to eat a helping of turkey (or two) and I’ll bladdy well enjoy scoffing my face. But that doesn’t mean the run up to Christmas is total happiness. I wanted to write this post because I wanted to say that if you’re reading this, and you’re struggling this Christmas, adapt the festive season to what works for you. Some days I hear the first few bars of a Christmas song and I just want to burst into tears; sometimes I can’t bring myself to go out on that festive night out with the girls, because I’m not feeling happy enough to pretend I am. You can join in as much, and as little, as you like in the festivities, and you need to remember that your loved ones will understand if this time of year isn’t the easiest. It’s just society that needs to run to catch up on this one.
I sincerely hope you all have as magical a Christmas as can possibly be this year. I hope you create a FOOD baby from scoffing all those chocolates, I hope you spend some quality time with those around you and I hope Christmas makes you smile, as much as possible. But if this season gets a little bit too much, please remember that it’s not all festive cheer and glitter for a lot of us, and that we completely understand what you’re going through. Take it easy, relax, let all your emotions be felt- and I promise, things will get easier over time.
I send all my love to those affected this Christmas xxxx
Dad, I love and miss you so very much x