When Christmas is a Challenge

By Shirley Price
By Shirley Price

If Christmas is a difficult time for you – you are not alone!

Especially as we get older Christmas is a time that fills us with memories of Christmases past.  Some of those memories may be wonderful and some we would rather forget. Most of us can recall at least some good times at Xmas, especially when we were children having our own parents around.  It’s the good memories that make us realize how much we may have lost. And if they were mostly bad memories then there can be feelings of sadness because of how much we may have missed out on.

If life has changed dramatically and has become more of a challenge for us we may find it difficult to know how best to survive this season.

Christmas is a special time for families and it’s a time when we especially think about family members and friends that are no longer with us.  If we focus on sad thoughts and feelings we can get pretty melancholy at this time of the year.  And of course it’s okay to feel sad for those we have lost and miss.  Regardless, we really need to acknowledge where we are in our lives and do what we need to improve our own situation.

There are a number of challenging holidays, Christmas is not the only one but it is the main one when the celebrations last for more than a day. However much you may try; there is no getting away from it. It’s not a one day event where if you choose you can stay in bed, hide under the covers and sleep the day away, or have a movie marathon and eat your favourite junks foods all day.  Christmas is a season with the pre Xmas celebrations going on all around us, the Xmas music that you hear in all the stores that cheer some people and sadden others.  There are weeks of Xmas movies, Xmas lights and the crowded stores. It’s impossible to ignore.Christmas is a magical time for most children, especially the very young ones.  Even though it may be somewhat of a struggle for many parents financially, it’s usually a good time for the majority of the parents too. By the time Christmas day comes they are usually ready to relax and enjoy it. Moms and Dads and even grandparents and other family members can get caught up in the spirit of Xmas through the eyes of the children. When there are excited children around its tough not to get caught up in their enthusiasm.  Their excitement as they write their letter to Santa, the school xmas concert, the hanging of decorations, trimming the Christmas tree and the twinkling lights.

There are many others that really enjoy Christmas even without children.  They enjoy the Christmas traditions, getting together with friends and family. They love the Christmas parties, open houses, and all the other usual Christmas celebrations like going to midnight mass, gift giving, cooking and enjoying a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Then there’s the annual Xmas baking traditions that many absolutely love to do.

Even those with large families and lots of company have their challenges as they stress themselves trying to do the impossible wanting to keep everyone happy while driving themselves crazy. It’s stressful trying to figure out the best way to arrange Christmas without upsetting anyone. We’ve probably all had some experience with this – do you visit his family or her family?  Who do you invite to your home and who you can’t invite when couples have divorced?  Then there’s the family members that don’t get along, there are so many variables.

The thing is there are lots of challenges but when it comes down to it we have to take responsibility for us. We can choose to make up our minds that Christmas is going to be miserable or we can find ways to get some joy and fulfillment from the season.  It’s not that Christmas is miserable; it’s that we are deciding to be miserable and make it so. It may not be what we want it to be. We may be missing someone desperately, and we may shed some tears on Christmas morning, but then we need to decide to get on with the day. Make the most of it; whatever that comes to mean to you.

Having a cause that takes our focus off ourselves is the best solution. There are lots of people that will be having a tough time for various reasons. Giving to others is a way that you will feel good about yourself.  Volunteer to serve meals to the needy, invite a neighbour that is on their own to join you for dinner, or better yet organize a potluck for those on their own.  Go help out at the local hospital by visiting patients that have no one to visit them. If you are still a part of the workforce maybe you can cover for someone that would love to have the day off with their family.  I’m sure they would appreciate it and you would feel good about giving.

Don’t set yourself up for failure. Some get so stressed out because they want to make everything perfect, especially women. Make it easy on yourself. Make it fun and enjoy the season.

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