This post is in no way intended to be some sort of sorrowful, self-deprecating ode to my tempestuous relationship with the festive season, because as a child, for me, it truly was the most wonderful time of the year. What I’ve learnt over the last 8 or so years is that, glitzy distractions aside, although it is Christmas, life goes on. I really don’t want to cast a dark fog over the rosy Christmas cheer but I do want to be better at being mindful, and hopefully helping others’ do so too. What I mean when I say ‘life goes on’ is that I don’t believe, in the real world, that we can simply wrap our troubles away (pun intended) or better still live in a silver lined, snow globe version of reality where we take a bite of a fairy dust spiced cookie and our troubles melt away –but yes I would buy these cookies by the boatload if they were available at Tesco.
I must say that watching the terribly corny, questionably acted films on the Christmas 24 channel does in fact distract me from my reality because it is so whimsical and couldn’t be further from anyones reality and I suppose that can be part of the beauty. I am aware however, that this is not the case for everyone, apart from my mum of course, who started watching Christmas 24 in October and has never ceased to change the channel since. I still love the idea of Christmas and whilst having cultural and traditional attachments to the season I am starting to slowly find the joy in the smaller things once again, after many years of feeling a little numb to it all. I think I’ve been somewhat compelled to write this sort of tongue-in-cheek post because, apart from feeling a little despaired when I see shoppers frantically filling up their baskets with things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like in, what can only be described as an apocalyptic style of shopping, it’s also to do with the fact that last years Christmas was really difficult for me. I’m not even sure if I feel totally comfortable talking abut it yet, but without going into too much detail, the recent loss of a loved one can’t be forgotten just because it’s the 25th of December and no less when all associations with this day are steeped with warm memories of a grandad much loved, now lost.
This got me thinking.
The grief I carry along with my pre-existing mental health struggles couldn’t be shaken off ‘just because’. This is surely the case for people all around the world who aren’t lucky enough to enjoy the day for what it is; the day on which the festival of Christmas is celebrated. People have problems, priorities, responsibilities; mothers who can’t put food on the table, the homeless who are hoping just to make it through ’till morning, the parents fighting wars in foreign lands and the widows who haven’t had human interaction for weeks, estranged families who haven’t spoken in years and people who are fighting their physical and mental conditions on a daily basis who can’t just stop fighting because they’re ‘supposed’ to be having fun. The list goes on; it is lengthy and reaches all corners of this Earth. Unfortunately for many it can be a day or month just like any other. I’d love to say that because it’s Christmas everything just gets better, but it doesn’t, life goes on.
As I said before, I do not want this to be doom and gloom, I believe I am living proof that no matter how dire your circumstances may be; change can come. I believe that we, as people have the potential to affect change in a huge way. I guess my point is that, if you find this time of year more difficult than enjoyable, then you’re probably not alone. I will be the person to tell you that it’s okay to feel that way. Let yourself feel greedy for eating all the Malteasers, feel exhausted at the thought of being around people or working in a busy retail job during the busiest weeks of the year or even inadequate because you can’t live up to the unrealistic expectations of gift-giving set out by society. Let yourself feel all the feelings! It’s. Okay. You have every right to be totally overwhelmed at all that is going on, I am too. Society paints this golden glittered version of what it believes Christmas should be, but the truth of the matter shows that it is different and diverse for us all.
My faith in humanity is determined by how we treat each other. Here’s an unpopular opinion: I think we can do better. I think we need to get better at being mindful, realising that my/ your storm is just as valid as the next person’s and the importance of being kind, compassionate and more than anything- aware in these times where Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas drones on in the background, while no-one looks up from their phones. These are probably the most far-reaching, significant things we can do (being aware and compassionate I mean, not looking down whilst listening to Mariah!) The good news is that I have hope that one day I’ll enjoy Christmas just as much as the next exitable 5 year old or middle-aged Kirsty Allsop type figure who makes all her decorations out of garden grass and glitter, but even if I don’t, I accept that is okay too.
Be kind to yourself in the coming weeks,