This post was originally published on 12 December 2011. Nothing much has changed except we now do breakfast (I go for a run beforehand) and I have replaced wine with Pimm’s. It’s now a day I look forward to, because I do things I enjoy: run, eat, watch Really Good TV, consume alcohol, all without having to go anywhere!
For as long as I can remember, Christmas has been a difficult time for me. It’s supposed to be about family but, apart from my daughter and one sister, I have no family to speak of.
Most of the Christmas rhetoric is about spending time with your family; however, there’s not a lot of discussion about what to do if you are more or less alone. There are so many expectations – and assumptions – wrapped up in the whole Christmas parcel, that once unpacked, becomes emotionally tricky to navigate. One day, so much fuss.
When my daughter was younger, I used to take us away – usually to the Gold Coast – so that the emphasis was less on Christmas and more on a holiday. The holiday *was* the present, and we were spending time together. Two birds with one stone. My sister and her daughter came with us once or twice, and The Italian even ventured up one year, but didn’t stay the entire time as he went back to spend Christmas with his family (subtext: I was not). And, while expensive, this worked well for a couple of years.
As my daughter got older, it became harder for her to leave her friends, so we spent Christmas at home. Our routine changed, and I had to find another way to make the time meaningful. At the same time, I tried not to wallow in self-pity at the realisation that I have no real family or significant other to spend this time with. It can be depressing if you allow it, and sometimes (I admit) it got the better of me. My daughter now goes to her boyfriend’s family for most of the day, and I am even more alone. Me, myself, I and the cat. Thank God for Bella Kitteh.
Once I came to terms with the aloneness of Christmas for me – and it has taken years – I found peace. I now look at it as just a day – like any other – that’s been super-duper commercialised. It’s essentially become about consumerism (if you buy your kids/parents/partner/work colleagues/neighbours/people you’ve only met once in your life/homeless guy on the street a present, you will show them all how generous and kind you are and they will love you forever). I have turned the day into a “me” day. I cook lovely food, I drink great wine and I catch up on my DVD/TV viewing. That’s it. That’s my Christmas Day. And it’s perfect.
It’s a relaxing day for me now, because I’ve ditched the expectations. I’ve said “no” to feelings of failure and guilt and loneliness and loss – because that’s what Christmas represented to me. I’ve said “yes” to enjoying time to myself and pampering me.
And isn’t that the best gift of all?