Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Claire Routledge Dip Couns.Registered MBACP
3rd November, 20140 Comments
Whilst the majority of people look forward to the Christmas season, we tend to forget that for many this is a time of stress, anxiety, worry and debt and that this is one of the major times of the year for separation, depression and suicide. For those without families it can be a time of extreme loneliness and isolation.
There is an increasing expectation that we have to buy the most expensive gadgets and designer labels for our children and we are made to feel that we are failures as parents if we are unable to provide these items. This can cause arguments between parents as they may well differ in opinion on the importance of spending vast sums of money that they can really ill afford.
Families, some of whom we only see once a year, can divide the families as we bicker about who we should spend Xmas day with this year. We can feel obligated to invite people to sit around our Christmas table tucking into large amounts of food and consuming excessive quantities of alcohol.
I believe compromise and reality checks are the order of the day to avoid misery well into the New Year. What we are all guilty of forgetting is that all this fuss and worry is around one day of the year. We have to live with the consequence of debt and family breakdown for a very long time. Is it really worth it?
Christmas can be fun and worry free – it just needs managing in a way that does not involve spending beyond our means or becoming heavily involved in family dynamics.
How can we manage this then?
I strongly believe that good communication is the key to avoiding these pitfalls. Listen to each other and don’t be afraid to speak about your concerns. Keeping quiet and letting everything build up is just a pressure cooker waiting to explode and when it does it can cause untold damage to anyone in its wake.
Your children would much prefer to live in a united and happy home than have loads of presents that will probably be forgotten about before the year is out. If you can’t afford to buy the newest iPhone or designer trainers, don’t be afraid to sit your children down and explain this to them. Suggest that they save their pocket money to buy them and perhaps suggest matching what they save. This way not only will they appreciate just what things cost but you will be teaching them an invaluable lesson about life in general. We cannot expect to get everything we want in life without some sacrifice. Do not feel guilty that they are not getting what their friends may be having instead celebrate that they are healthy and have you in their life. You cannot put a price on this.
The same compromise needs to be made when it comes to visiting or inviting other members of the family. Families are not perfect, not all parents are great ones. We do not have a duty to invite or visit anyone. However, it may just make our lives that little bit easier if we accept this and if we have children or a partner it is only fair that they can spend time with other family members if they want to. So again, discuss how this can be best managed; there is no need to make threats or issue ultimatums. There is always a way round this that works for everyone.
I believe that common sense can disappear as Christmas looms ever closer. The shops start earlier and earlier each year trying to tempt us and commercials on television have us believing that Christmas will be doomed if we don’t buy their products. Please do not be tempted to spend what you don’t have. To do this and risk everything you hold dear especially your sanity is definitely Christmas crackers!
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