Worried lady looking at a pile of Christmas gifts

Coping with Christmas – an emotional journey

Well – who know where we will be at Christmas this year. Covid 19 however is not going to make it an easy time however for many it isn’t easy any year.  Christmas can often highlight difficulties within families and cause huge strain equally it can be exceedingly difficult for people who are on their own and don’t have the families to keep them company.

I want to look at the different situations that I have come across over the years and it makes me appreciate the difficulties that Christmas presents and I will bravely say that most people struggle to overcome a problem of some shape or form every year.

In my younger years

Many years ago in my “single life” – I decided to help out one Christmas at a homeless shelter.  There is a charity in Brighton who at the time was specifically for homeless men and they organised Christmas day lunch for at the time over 100 homeless people.  I had no idea what I was letting myself in for and there was a certain amount of apprehension.  What I did not expect was to meet to many amazing characters, intelligent, highly qualified, ex service people – the majority of people had been made homeless through sheer disastrous circumstances and were unable to find their way out.  Over Christmas day and Boxing Day we served more than 300 meals and then tea in the afternoon.  I went home exhausted, but I have never yet experienced the sense of satisfaction and thanks for all I have. I then did it for the next 4 years – how to learn to value everything you have and be thankful for what you have.  These men and women were just thankful for a plate of food and some care.

I also spent several years working in a pub when I was younger,- this again brings you to see another side of peoples character – the lonely who need to go out every night to meet someone as they were unable to cope with life on their own – sometimes these people didn’t speak to anyone else until they went to the pub.  Sat behind 4 walls until they went to the pub and longing for someone to talk to.  Just a stimulating conversation to give them something to pass the time of day – Christmas for them was a day of heightened loneliness – everything rightly is closed after lunchtime and they have nowhere to go – often sat at home with the television and no one to talk to.

Shopping and the expectations

In other years – this is a time when the towns are bustling and busy with shoppers – buying and searching for the right present for a family member or friend – this in itself can also be a stressful situation – how many of us overspend at this time of year – trying to keep up with other friends and match the same value of presents – this feeling of having to do what is right and having to spend so much money and sometimes more than we can afford.  This sense of competition can be the cause of extreme stress and anxiety.

There is then the demand from children – a situation which is often caused by the constant adverts on the television for expensive toys and gifts which bombard children at this time of year.  Having to say to your children that they can’t have everything is often a very difficult scenario and can also cause parents extreme anguish and stress.  I learnt my lesson one year when my daughter who was probably 4 or 5 at the time and she had a gift that came in a big box.  The gift was well received but the box was the thing that brought the most fun.  My dad – in his ever-amazing way – made the box a fantastic toy attaching a rope handle and she was pulled around the house for days in the awesome homemade toy!  It cost nothing!

Expectations are high at this time of year and sadly it is our intense sense of wanting to make it right and make someone happy that pushes us even further.

There is then the day itself – who should we see – and this year – who can we see – it is going to be tough.  We all have family traditions that we long to stick to however I think this year we may have to be a little flexible – after all it is only 1 day and we really need to seriously think about the health and safety of our family members.  For me, the possible thought of meeting someone and passing the virus or catching it – I find quite frightening.

Maybe this year we can do something different – depending on the regulations of course – maybe take a lunch to a loved one on their own – take a lunch a neighbour on their own, lets think about the true meaning of Christmas.

Make it a year not to over stretch the finances – not everyone is still working – not everyone still has a guaranteed income, come to an agreement with friends maybe not to exchange gifts.  You just do not know their circumstances and it may just be a step too far for some people this year.

Let us exchange love, thoughts, and practical gifts for our loved ones.  A gift of taking the dog for a walk for a neighbour who may not be able to get out, do some gardening, wash someone’s car, a gift of taking a friend or neighbour their shopping, go out for a walk, experience something new and but free!

Let us take the commercialism out of Christmas and take it back to the basic essence of love and kindness and thought and care – and not just for the day but for all the year.

If you are feeling anxious, concerned or in a total quandary as to what you should be doing for Christmas – take a step back and think maybe about what you would really like to do and what you would really like to happen and – Covid 19 dependent – lets make it a happy one for all of us with no additional pressures and expectations.

If you need any help or want to talk, I am always here to help and listen. www.remediesbyros.com