“Tis the season to be jolly”…The famous line from one of the most well known christmas carols, and yet the reality of christmas leaves many people feeling less than festive.
When you are young christmas is the most exciting time of the year. I still remember waking up at 5am to check the end of my bed to see if Santa had been. I got to spend the day with my cousins and my grandparents, and everything that I remember about that day was bright and shiny and exciting.
Is it that as adults we miss that sense of pure joy? Or it is that at this time we evaluate our lives? We think back to the image we had as a kid of what our lives would like like, and think…oops!
When I moved overseas I didn’t have any family living here, and for me christmas represented a day where I could go to my horse and there was no-one, and I loved it. To be the only ones in the whole world on that day just doing what I love to do. But other people got in the road of that. They would ask me, sometimes up to ten different people a day, starting from about the week before christmas, “What will you do for christmas?”. I would reply “ride my horse”, and they would look at me like “You poor sad pathetic homeless girl”, which was not the case at all, as I was perfectly fine. There was one time I even made something up, just because I didn’t want the pity, but then I thought why should I?
I believe more than anything it’s the expectations people put on christmas that ruins it, for them and for others. The expectations that the meal be perfect so the person cooking has to worry about it for a week before. The expectations that family will need to get along, which inevitable ends in a heated family discussion/argument between two people who never liked eachother but were forced together for the occasion. The belief that if you are alone you are somehow to be felt sorry for, when in reality it’s just one day…What about caring if that person is alone for the other 364 days of the year?
A study was released that reported “People say that they dread Christmas because of the expectations for social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances that they’d rather not spend time with. And finally, many people feel very lonely at Christmas, because they have suffered the loss of loved ones or their jobs.” (psychology today)
This I know to be true.
Anyone who lost a very close family member early on will tell you that christmas after that, even if they were still a child, was never the same.
In fact, it became a day where you would sit around a table, decorated and warm, full of people that you love, but somehow instead of seeing all the people you love, all you would feel was the absense of the person that you once loved, who was no longer there, at that table. The table was full, and yet it was empty.
So actually I loved christmas in Portugal even when I was alone, because there wasn’t suppose to be anyone there that was missing. Yes my family were in Australia, but that’s where they were suppose to be.
It sounds strange, but I felt a sense of freedom from the expectation, and I could just enjoy the day.
Truth is though, if my dad hadn’t died when I was young, I would be one of those people with the tree warming up towards the end of November. The type of person who asks you in late august if you thought about what you want for christmas, and the person who, with absolute pleasure, cooks christmas dinner for everyone she knows.
A part of me is still that person. Recently I had dinner with a couple who I genuinely admire, and the wife was asking me “where my christmas tree was?”. I could see in her eyes everything that is still good about christmas. Forget the commercialism and the overeating, and the waste from the commercialism and the overeating…She had that warm excited child look, which I think every adult is lucky to hold to, even in just a small way.
I have that when I am with animals. Animals were the part of my childhood where I was free from everything else. At one point I had a magpie (gobble docks), a kangaroo(millie), two dogs ( beron and eddie), a cow (goosebumps), and my pony (jimbo) and so when I am with animals I feel like I am 6 years old again.
That’s what I saw in this beautiful person, that sense of warmth and care, and for lack of a better way to put it “christmas spirit” that I think is what still makes a part of this holiday truly good.
I worry about all the people that are alone this christmas, or are alone for the first time after a breakup or divorce, or are at a table where someone is missing… And to those people I think the best you can do is to be kind to yourself. Don’t expect it to be a miracle magical day, but instead just enjoy the best bit…Maybe it’s the dessert that you only have on christmas, or your crazy aunt that keeps things entertaining…Maybe it’s your dog who enjoys the turkey you cook more than you do, or maybe it’s going to ride your horse on a day when there is no traffic, and no noise…Focus on that one thing and who knows, it might not turn out as bad as you thought it would, or better still, you might even enjoy it!