Christmas: Not Always So Cheery (1)
By: Beth McHugh 2009
Christmas can be such a happy time for family and friends to catch up and enjoy a happy day which goes on to ultimately form happy memories in their lives as the years pass.
Sadly, Christmas and the festive season in general can be the most difficult and painful time of the year for people to cope with and it is this aspect of the holiday period that I wish to discuss today.
There are so many myths about Christmas in terms of how families should behave and the fun that we all should be having, that many people who are sad on and around Christmas believe there is something wrong with them or that everyone else is having a great time and they are the odd ones out.
Sure, some people are having a good time, but the festive season is also the season of suicides, as people’s feelings about themselves, their lives, their families, their perceived lost opportunities, etc, all come to the fore. It is a time we are supposed to be happy, yet many aren’t. Sometime this becomes all too much and family fights erupt, heart attack occurrences rise as tempers flare and some people, unable to deal with a year-full of feelings all wrapped up in one neat day, decide to take their own lives to end the pain.
The problem with Christmas is that we believe we should all be happy on this day. That long-standing family difficulties will be suspended for 24 hours, that ex-partners will be nice to us and nice to the children and not try to upstage one another with gifts to win over the kiddies.
We believe that our difficult parents will be nice for one day and that sibling rivalry will somehow disappear when it comes to the opening of presents and the mental calculation of costs of these presents will be put aside for the good of Christmas.
We hope that everyone will love the gifts we bought them and look for joy on the faces of the recipient. This often doesn’t happen. We might slave over food preparation only to get neither a compliment nor an offer to clean up the mess that awaits in the kitchen.
And then there is the problem of which parents to spend Christmas dinner with without offending the other set of parents. And the pinnacle of tactical negotiation – the blended family where there are so many gene pools involved that surely someone is going to drown in a family whirlpool of unresolved emotions before its time for lights out.
We’ll look at some coping strategies in the next article.