Not everyone loves Christmas by Lisa Hunt-Wotton
Sometimes Christmas can bring more Pain than Peace
Christmas should be a time for love, for joy and peace. It’s the designated season when we celebrate the birth of love, the promise of peace, the hope for a better life. The birth of the Prince of Peace, the messianic promise of freedom and life, the birth of Jesus.
Yet for many of us Christmas is a time of dislocation, stress, grief and loneliness.
I would like for us to meditate, think a little deeper, on how some people feel at Christmas.
If we truly want to be bearers of hope, peace and love, then we need to firstly be those who walk with understanding and compassion.
For me, Christmas has been a struggle since the death of my first husband and the loss of my family. It is a time that highlights that loss and deepens the grief.
For many people, Christmas is a tug of war with children. When relationships have fractured and broken, Christmas becomes all about what time the affidavit says that you can pick up the children and what time they need to be back. Who had them last year and who has them now.
For others Christmas is a lonely time when they find themselves on their own. Dislocated from family and friends for whatever reason. They don’t have a big Christmas planned, they are not busy, they don’t have anyone to buy for and they won’t receive any gifts, in fact, they will sit in front of the TV with a boiled egg on Christmas Day.
Christmas can also be a time that highlights financial stress.
The media and society stuff our minds full of consumerism and false expectations. The decorations, the food, and alcohol, the perfect turkey, the perfect pudding, the perfect present, the perfect party. The perfect debt that we can never seem to get over. The financial pressure at this time of year can be crippling. You may have lost your job or be out of work and have no idea how you will pay the rent let alone ‘DO’ Christmas.
It is also a time when depression and anxiety escalates. For many of the reasons already mentioned, this time of year can trigger mental health issues. Those suffering anxiety wish they could crawl under the bed at the very thought of having to attend family or work gatherings. It escalates social pressures and social expectations.
Sadly, 105,0001 Australians will be homeless this Christmas. Many of them will be families with children in desperate need of your help. Who looks after them?
Heres a few things we can do to help:
1: It’s healthy and okay to talk about the fact that this is a tough time of year for you. Sometimes just exhaling and expressing our grief can relieve the pressure.
2: For those of you who adore Christmas and who don’t have any problems, maybe you could be a little more aware of those around you who are struggling. Keep an eye out for those who may be alone or are facing a particularly difficult time and acknowledge that. Find a way that you could make this time of year a little easier for those who are not coping so well.
3: Simplify your expectations. This has really worked for me. I had to let go of my expectations and learn to enjoy smaller, new experiences and not put so much pressure on myself. I could not bring back those who I had lost but I could celebrate with those that I have now.
4: Don’t let your mental health rest on one day. As a mother, step mother and mother in law of 10 adults it is totally impossible for me to expect to have everyone together on one day. There are other families involved now. I am very happy to spread out the love. As long as I can kiss and hug them at sometime over the season I am happy. I know how much pressure is involved trying to please multiple famlies and what it’s like spending all day in the car trying to see everyone. So spread it out. Let go of the pressure.
5: If you have a mental health issue, be honest with family and friends about it. Remind them that this time of year exasperates your anxiety and could they please give you some space or understand that this is difficult.
- Be aware that the demands placed on people at this time of year are often unbearable to those with anxiety or depression. The best gift you can give to them is compassion and understanding. If family don’t or won’t understand, you make have to make some boundaries around expectations for your own health and well being.
6: Be more aware of people and programmes in your community. In Warrandyte I know that ‘Now and Not Yet’ is hosting a free Christmas dinner for people who don’t have anywhere to go. 25th December at 5:30pm all are welcome.
It’s an important way of building community and making sure that no one is alone over Christmas.
- Check on neighbours and friends who may be alone. Pop in with a card and cake or sit and have a cuppa for 30 min.
- Teach your kids about those who are less fortunate and make sure you help them to make a gift, or purchase a gift for those who have nothing.
7: Get involved in a charity:
- Mission Australia; $72.00 can help to buy groceries for a family of four for the week of Christmas.
- Anglicare Victoria serve breakfast for the homeless over the Christmas season.
- Give to the Salvos for Christmas. The Salvation Army have programmes in place to help the homeless they also run The Wishing Tree at K Mart. In 2016, The Wishing Tree Appeal aims to collect more than 500,000 gifts nationally to help the thousands of Australian’s in need this Christmas.
- They also run The Spirit of Christmas through Myer where the proceeds of the Christmas CD go to families experiencing domestic violence.
8: Be grateful for what you have in your life, rather than focusing on what you don’t have;
9: Take positive action and plan interesting and fun things, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
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Thanks for considering.