The trouble with Christmas
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Toby Ingham MA UKCP BAPPS
10th December, 2009
“The trouble with Christmas” says Rachel “is that we are all supposed to get on, and we don’t! I don’t see my younger sister for months at a time. My mother’s always stressed and worried about my Dad and whether there’ll be an argument. But because it’s Christmas there’s the expectation that we can all get together and have a great time.”
Christmas is a difficult time of year for a lot of people. For most of us it involves a substantial break in the normal rhythm of our lives. And although it’s good to get away from work for a few days, the current uncertainty in the job markets and all of the various financial pressures are making it very difficult to relax. Somehow at Christmas it is easy to get caught up in a rather false idea that we are all supposed to get on and have a nice time together. Ordinarily we might know that amongst the family there can be all sorts of tensions and potential disagreements but there is something about Christmas that can draw us into unrealistic expectations of each other.
Like Rachel says “I’ve got to get my husband and my children to travel all the way to Yorkshire for what generally ends up being a bit of a disaster. It’s like the rest of the year I do my best with work and the children and then all of a sudden I am plunged back into a world where I feel about eight years old. It’s awful. The only good thing about it is giving presents to the kids, but since they’ve stopped believing in Father Christmas it’s all become much more focused on how much money are they going to get”.
And then there are all of the ghosts of Christmas past, the memories that Christmas evokes, all the people that we remember and miss, the cards we no longer send and the ones we no longer receive. It can be a very painful and lonely time.
So what would it be like if this year we each gave ourselves a present and decided we would make a consistent effort to be less demanding of other people, more accepting of how people are, and less demanding of ourselves too? Happy Christmas!
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