This week I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas, and not in a particularly good way. You see I am surrounded by Christmas activity, hyperactive children asking me every 5 minutes how many sleeps until Santa comes, everything done, boxed off, wrapped and organised, with nothing left to do but enjoy the time with my little family. But for some reason Christmas always brings me a lot of sadness.
I’ve always been an empathetic person, and I’m super aware of so many people out there that are suffering at Christmas. I think of the people that have lost someone and how Christmas highlights their empty seat at the dinner table. I think of people that are homeless, children without their families, people that have to work while their families celebrate without them. And my heart breaks for split families packing their children off maybe on alternate years to spend Christmas with their ex and possibly a new family. I really, REALLY feel for anyone feeling any sort of loneliness or sadness at Christmas.
But I have to ask myself why I feel this way at Christmas myself when on paper I have everything I should have. I feel it goes beyond just being an empath, and I think the sadness originates from a sense of loneliness. And it’s not loneliness as in I am sat in my house completely on my own. It is a feeling that I’m cut off. It’s dark and cold outside. Everyone is in their own homes; doors locked, curtains closed. And everyone I would normally reach out to for a chat or a giggle is busy with their own families. I feel I shouldn’t bother anyone until after Boxing Day really. So there is just a sense of total isolation from anything outside of my own home.
I think we also build ourselves up to think that Christmas should be perfect. I know I do. I expect the children to be happy, to be so grateful for their gifts, to not fight with each other, to be entertained with their new toys ALL Christmas Day, to want to eat their Christmas dinner, to sit quietly and watch a Christmas movie all afternoon cuddled up together on the sofa; to basically live in a house of euphoria if only for that one day of the year. It never ends up like that. And I don’t know about anyone else, but there’s a feeling that in every other house but ours it really is like that and it’s just our Christmas that’s not lived up to my wild expectations!
But last Christmas was worse than ever and I found myself alone in my room reflecting on an awful year that I was glad to see the back of, feeling very alone on Christmas Eve as the children slept and my husband worked. And knowing it was Christmas and I should be happy, just amplified that feeling of sadness. I was no longer a child where nothing could touch me if I only had one more sleep until Santa came. I was a grown woman alone in bed sobbing, grieving for times gone by that I would never have again, people that are still well and truly alive, but I would never see again. And everything sad just seemed to feel ten times sadder at Christmas for me, as I’m sure it does for others.
So I had to ask myself how I was going to make sure I did not have another Christmas like last year. And this year if those feelings do creep back in I’ve resolved to remember it is only one day I have to get through. When I feel lonely I need to remember that we all touch so many people’s lives, more than we’ll ever know, and that I can never really be alone when there are so many more people out there to meet and ,or have impact my life. But I do need to remember that I’m not going to meet those people or impact them on Christmas Day when we’re all tucked up in our own individual homes. So I may as well enjoy the time away from the world and build myself up for the New Year, for new purposeful challenges.
There is of course then post-Christmas blues to deal with; the anticipation and build up over maybe many months for that one perfect day; and now it’s gone. I’m going to use that time between Christmas and New Year to really journal and focus on what positive changes I want to make next year and what challenges I want to set myself. I will be looking at my 19 for 19 list a lot of the ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’ podcast listeners are involved in, where I have basically created a bucket list of 19 things I want to achieve in 2019. I have posted my list on Instagram and it is now pinned up on my wall for inspiration. I am going to really start looking into booking things and planning where I can fit each task in.
So hibernation, appreciation of the solitude, and looking into personal growth are my tools for dealing with the loneliness of Christmas. I will turn that down time into something productive; something to distract me and excite me for what’s to come.
I wish everyone reading a joyful Christmas, and for anyone out there that is affected by anything at this time of year I wish for you to find support and strength to make it through. That can be such a massive achievement for some people, that I hope that strength kick starts your own journey of personal growth into 2019. If we can survive sadness and loneliness at Christmas we can survive and grow from anything. Give yourself credit for that achievement and turn those feelings into something positive in any way you can. Sending much love.