I think Christmas is a tough time of year. When you have lost someone in the previous 12 months it all comes home at Christmas. When you are worried for your job, shopping becomes a nightmare. When your spouse has left or your family is in crisis – it is all heightened by Christmas.
Christmas – which is my favourite time of year – holds the potential for high, high stress. Money, in-laws, time pressures – it’s all there.
So, what’s to love?
I get a chance to give a gift to everyone I care about and my generosity is not questioned.
I can buy my kids silly stuff and serious stuff – anything I want to that says to me “they will absolutely love this”.
I can sing Christmas carols as I know all the words.
People let you into lines and actually stop their cars to let you get out of the side street you’d typically be stuck on for hours.
You can get gingerbread latte at Starbucks.
You can read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and my favourite – White Christmas – and pretend you live in a time that seemed simpler (the rules seemed simpler anyhow).
You can bake really fancy cookies with dates, and nuts and sour cream dough.
You can put up a sparkling tree and turn it on early in the morning and leave it on all day and just sit and look at the sparkling lights and no one says, “What are you doing? Are you okay?”
You can remember all the Christmas mornings you got really cool things. When I was a kid my Mom (single, working – at a time when that wasn’t common or cool) used to pile our stuff on the couch and put a piece of paper with our name on it. She would sit in her nightgown (exhausted I am sure) and let us run to our pile and dive in. Not wrapped. Not one at a time. Just ‘here’s your stuff – get to it”. My stuff was perfect – a huge tower of books. Used, new, – who cared? I collected Nancy Drew books and I always got lots. That was back when the orange at the tip of your shoe was a real orange, not a chocolate orange. A bowl of nuts on the table with a nutcracker, and mostly walnuts.
We listened to Brenda Lee and I knew all her songs, including the Little Blue Bell.
Christmas was and is special.
It is also a hard time.
So be extra kind and gentle with strangers. Remember – all the things that we love about Christmas become part of the pain later.