Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

Picture:  Channel 4
Its my last full day before the madness begins.  As you may have guessed from recent posts, I'm not exactly up for Christmas this year.  I've tried my best to get into the swing of it and feel festive.  But somehow, I just can't.  I've put up the tree, done the shopping and opened the cards, but I can't get excited. I haven't even played my Christmas Hits CD - no Slade, no John and Yoko, not even any Wizzard.   The black cloud of Christmas has descended in a way I haven't had it in years, and I can't seem to shake it off.

Tomorrow we start the annual Christmas Odyssey, 300 miles of driving and visiting and being cheerful against the odds. Battling through snow and ice this year looks a certainty too.  The likelihood of being stuck in a freezing traffic queue for hours on end doesn't really entice.

All this year, I've been trying to be authentic, to really be myself.  And now I have finally realised, that really, deep down, the truth is that Christmas just makes me miserable and I wish it would go away.  I know its a time when we are supposed to enjoy being with our families and celebrating love, all of which is very laudable, but for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is biological depression, I'd rather just crawl under my duvet and stay there till its all over.

We put so much pressure on ourselves to enjoy this time.  People often complain about the commercial pressure that surrounds Christmas, but I think there is an increasing pressure, an insidious one, which is social.  You MUST enjoy this time of year, otherwise you are a Scrooge, a humbug, a misery.  You must force yourself to appreciate all the 'good' things about family, belonging, togetherness.

By doing this, we exclude those who can't.  The people who are alone, or who have no relatives.  I don't just mean those poor souls living on the streets.  I mean the uncounted others for whom Christmas is a national celebration of everything they can't share, forced down their throat everywhere they look.

The mother whose child has just died.

The wife whose husband has just been killed on active duty in Afghanistan.

The daughter whose mother doesn't recognise her anymore because of Alzheimers, whose childhood Christmas memories have now been wiped.

The woman or man whose life has just been torn apart by divorce.

The souls who sit in mental hospitals over the holidays, isolated within their heads.

The grown up children (and not-so grown-up) who no longer have any contact with their families because of mental, physical or sexual abuse, because they are lesbian or gay, or because they have chosen to marry 'out' in some way.

Or those, like me, for whom Christmas is a celebration of everything they are not.  A celebration of motherhood.

When you are surrounded by those you love on Saturday, in a rosy glow of twinkling lights, mince pies and sherry, please think of those for whom this time of year is not filled with joy, but by the very nature of their losses and exciles, the exact opposite.

Merry Christmas everyone. xxx


  1. This is really moving. I think it's easy to think of those 'less fortunate' in the sense of being homeless etc., but I totally agree that even if your life isn't that extreme, it still might not be a nice time of year for you.

    I hope you manage to get all your travelling done without too many problems and you enjoy yourself a bit.

  2. I was just going to say, "thank you for reminding us about the darker side of this season," but I couldn't help myself... I hope you don't think me too forward for what is written below.

    I think people forget that Christmas is, at its core, a religious festival. All the emphasis on family and presents has grown out of what was once a day of fasting (24th) and overshadowed the fact that if we're not Christian, there isn't any reason to celebrate the birth of Christ... (Possibly a very bleak assessment but there we are.) I think as a society we need to stop this obsession with what should probably now be referred to as xmas - with the glittery lights, the cheesy smiles and the mountains of things we neither want nor need - celebrate the day if we're religious and if we're not, move on and enjoy the extra holiday at some other time of year.

    Don't feel bad that you don't love Christmas. Just feel how you feel and nevermind what anyone else thinks - they don't have to live in your skin at the end of the day. These socially imposed ideas about mandatory happiness over the next 48 hours are only that - ideas.