This post isn’t for people who love the holidays and it’s not even going to offer you helpful tips on how to cope, it’s just a piece of writing that will hopefully allow you to feel a little less alone, or selfish or ‘messed up’ in your thoughts. It’s a piece of writing that I’m sure Scrooge would happily read as a bedtime story so here goes…
That’s not the technical term for it of course and it won’t suck for everyone and a lot of it is just mentality but for a lot of us out there, the holiday season is not one we enjoy.
Some of us don’t have many friends or even a family so when you spend weeks listening to people and watching adverts saying that the holiday season is all about surrounding yourself with loved ones, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. And those that do have family may not even want to spend the day with them because of issues they have each other. Society has a lot of expectations and not everyone can or does want to live up to them.
I don’t have many friends in my home town so when I look at my social media with everyone getting dressed up and going out, I get upset. When I look at all the gorgeous dresses for the ‘party season’ in the shops, I get upset because I realise that I have no need to buy them because I don’t have a ‘glitzy social life’. That doesn’t mean that the people that do attend the glitzy social gatherings aren’t hating every minute of them but at least they look drop dead gorgeous whilst they’re trying not to cry into their champagne.
So I have two friends and a geographically close family and I still hate how much emphasis society puts on us to force us together for the ‘special time of the year’. Newsflash, if it feels obligatory, it doesn’t feel special. Christmas never feels special to me because I see my family almost every week and my other family members throughout the year. I see my two friends often and speak to them constantly. I send my friends cards when they get new jobs or just to tell them I love them when they’re struggling. I don’t need Christmas to be a good friend or family member and neither do you.
And let’s not forget the presents. I’m really feeling the absolute bullshit in the process this year because for the last two years, I haven’t bought any (and not expected any) as it was so expensive to ship things back from Australia. I’ve been ‘consumerism free’ and I’m now being pulled into the Dark Side of it. It heightens my awareness that we’re all wasting money buying presents that we haven’t asked for in the hopes the other person will like it instead of waiting to get something they actually want/need. We’re all too ‘busy’ (there’s that word again) to begin thinking of personal gifts early enough to make them happen. Instead, we leave things too late and give a gift out of obligation as opposed to being something you believe in. So we sit there on the big day receiving presents most of us don’t really like but smile our way through it instead of appreciating being with each other.
And though my family may hate me for saying so, my favourite Christmas was the one in which I’d had my breakdown because mum and I spent it alone. It was just us two and it was a calm, quiet but lovely day. We went for a morning walk in the sunshine, ate a gorgeous roast dinner, unwrapped a couple of presents and watched the movies we enjoyed. There wasn’t bashing around and bickering in the kitchen or being forced to watch the Queen’s Speech to apease anyone. We did what we felt comfortable doing and loved it. That’s not to say that I don’t love my family but they bicker just as much as the next 10 people in the same room together for a prolonged period of time and for anyone who is an introvert or struggling with mental health issues, Christmas Day is a tough gig.
And even if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by friends and family during the holiday season, it doesn’t mean that it will take away your struggles. As the saying goes, you can be in the centre of the room and still be the loneliest person there. I know plenty of people that would prefer to have a very intimate or non-existant Christmas. My first year in Australia working at Bridge Climb meant that Christmas Day was my only day off and all I wanted to do was cook a nice dinner for myself, cuddle up on the sofa and watch a few movies. I didn’t and I regret it.
I just don’t see the point in Christmas Day. As a highly sensitive introvert with depression, my aim is to love my friends and family throughout the year, not just on a day that companies tell me to. I make the effort to be there for my friends when they need me any day of the year and I see my family often and I’m grateful for it. I don’t need a fanfare to do either.
My wish is that society reclaims what Christmas Day is supposed to be about; love. That we invite people we know who may be alone because we want to share a nice meal with them. That we stop buying presents for each other that have no meaning. That we don’t wait until the end of the year to buy a tub of KP salted peanuts or After Eight chocolates and enjoy them throughout the year. Life is too short to wait for just one day of the year.
So I’m sorry if you hate the holidays. If you want to spend them alone but you can’t. If you want to spend it with others but have no-one. If you feel obliged to buy presents you can’t afford. If you have no-one buying you presents.
I’m sorry if we, as a society, have a created a monster that feels as though it does more harm than good.
Be kind to yourself in whatever way you can because you won’t be alone in doing so.