A Christmas post…

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?

0 thoughts on “A Christmas post…

  1. For me, Christmas has always been about family. Quite normally, it’s involved everyone in the family bundling round different houses over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Those days were fun, and quite hectic. Now I have my own family and I appreciate much more the need for balance. It’d be nice to visit the family more, but we have so much going on that it can be easy to lose the time with my little ones just so I can satisfy a family tradition which has worn its welcome some. I’m not as bitter about it as that sounds, just more mindful of the different people involved at this time of year, and that I can and do enjoy the time with my wife, our kids and my parents.

    I understand this isn’t the same for everyone, and as you’ve described can indeed hold a lot of expectation. It’s good to hear you’re no longer restricted by these expectations. Well done you 🙂

    1. You are one of the lucky ones, Sukh, and I envy you. Because of my lack of family, one of the reasons I was so enamoured with The Italian was because his family was so large (he was the youngest of 8). It was lovely to experience that, if only for a little while, and even if it was the downfall of our relationship.

  2. If people didn’t make such a big deal of it, Christmas would just be another day for us too. It’s too exhausting for me. 🙂

  3. Diane, I had no idea how things are with you and your family. I have some insight into the difficulties but only as a complete outsider. As a person with his and hers and theirs in the basic family makeup I feel I can empathise to a degree. Since my mother died I have Tod, my half-brother and Carole, my very dear step-sister (with her various offspring) but no other real family. My personal relationship is a mystery even to me at the moment as my sig. other is somewhere in the wilds of Turkey with guerilla fighters! And you and i are expected to celebrate the joys of Christmas!???? Thank god for friends!! My thoughts are with you and I wish you joy where you can find it! XXXX Helena

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