Thursday, 5 December 2013

There is No Such Thing as the Perfect Christmas

As you can see from the title today, I wanted to talk about Christmas.  The whole event seems to start a lot earlier than it did when I was younger, but then maybe Im just turning into a grumpy old woman (no comments on that score from my nearest and dearest please).  From a commercial point of view I totally get that the need to buy in your stock, materials and do your advertising is a must in order to make those extra sales which will tide you over what I call the dark time in January and February until Valentines Day arrives when hopefully sales will, for some of us, take off again. 

However, from a personal point of view the pressure on all of us to be "happy" at Christmas is so awful.  There are lots of adverts on television showing the "perfect" Christmas meal, the perfect day, tree, family, presents.  In reality this is never the case. 

Speaking totally from the heart my happiest Christmases were those when my husband was alive.  The lead up to Christmas was so good, when we could share the shopping, the card writing, present wrapping and the day itself.  I still love to see the children open their presents and spend time with my family and friends but there is always an empty space.  I am sure this is the same for anyone who has lost someone they care about. 

So because I don't find Christmas easy without my husband I decided not long after he died that I was going to accept that it wouldn't be "perfect" for me, instead I just made it another day but one to spend with family.  Accepting this has made it easier for me to deal with the whole process because time doesn't change the feelings of loss, time just makes you learn to live with that loss.  In a way I look on grief as similar to post traumatic stress, you relive events in your mind, have flashbacks and memories and then slowly learn to put the pieces back together again.

Then there are those who suffer with mental health issues, cancer, disease of any kind that too impacts upon the time of year, for some it can be a living hell to have to be surrounded by too many people, its too much to cope with.  I wish for them a peaceful time and the courage to face the day in their own way and to do whatever it takes for them to say this is how I look at Christmas and it doesn't matter that its not how everyone thinks you should look at it. 

And of course, there are our own families, those relatives you don't really want to see, who drive you up the wall, who always drink too much or who complain loudly about everything (mental note to self, stop being a grumpy old woman).  Those whose children don't possess good manners and constantly whinge and whine, Im sure we all have some of those in our family, its like the old saying goes, "You can choose your friends but you cant choose your family!"

Also there is the cost of presents, food, cards, postage, the list goes on.  If, like us, you don't have a great deal of spare cash, then it can greatly add to the stress of everyday living to have to find the extra money for all of these things.  I have never been the parent who buys their child the latest toy, I have a budget and stick to that.  Rather I buy several small presents, more to open under the tree and more to do if they get bored, not that my girls ever seem to.  We still do stockings and as time has gone on the gifts are changing, this year it will be make up, nail varnish, toiletries.  Again, lots of little things that I can pick up throughout the year.

More and more I am trying to make this time of year a time for family and friends, not for money and waste.  I feel very strongly that losing my husband made me value my family all the more for who knows how long any of us is going to be here.  I want to be able to look back and say I gave time to my family, for me that is the best gift there is, spending time with the people who make up the structure of our lives, even if they do drive us up the wall sometimes!!

Have a lovely time whatever and however you choose to do it and I wish you peace and happiness for the year ahead.