Monday, 19 November 2018

IT'S OKAY TO IGNORE CHRISTMAS - HONESTLY!


      I briefly chatted with a friend recently.
         'How are you?' I asked.
         'It's that time of year.'
      'Ah...' I nodded. 'That time of year.'
      According to her mother, if she didn't do the right thing - i.e. All the family get together and 'have fun' - she would be a selfish so-and-so. Hang on a pickin' minute...! I did suggest she tell her mother... But my friend is far too nice to tell her mother... and there'd be all the repercussions to follow.

     It took me years to finally admit to my dear old dad that I hated family get-togethers. I quite liked them as a kid, but felt judged and out of it as I grew older. By the time I made my admittance to dad all those years later, my mother had been in a home for severe dementia for ten years and hadn't a clue. Dad, being shy, felt largely the same about family get-togethers, but, again, was far too nice and polite a person to acknowledge it because he wanted to do the 'right' thing, whatever the right thing was. On his birthday, all he wanted to do was have a quiet day sitting at home reading a book and drinking red wine. But no - relatives would be dropping in.
     'So-and-so is bringing a cake.' He said, 'I don't want to spoil it for them.'
     Honestly! It was his birthday! He couldn't even have his quiet day. 

     I loved Christmas when I was a kid. It was magical. Then I grew up and the expectations and commercialisms popped up. I began to not like it anymore. Jollities were forced on Husband and me by my family. Being sociable. (That was a biggie for them). Many, many people enjoy it. That's great, but for those of us who don't want to be jolly at the click of a Christmas tree light switch and who can barely tolerate other people (not me, but I know one or two folks like that...), Christmas is four months too long, starting after the summer hols have ended. Haven't even tricked or treated yet! 

     After I had kids and depression I began to detest Christmas. If I'd been well I might have tolerated it. Just. We put our feet down with a firm hand and refused all family requests to attend the wretched get-togethers. We did our best for the kids and hoped that they had reasonable festivities. Just cuz we hated it didn't mean they should. 

     So we plodded on, until five years ago and my depression cure. Our kids were grown-up, we had small grand-daughters and we could do the hell what we wanted. My parents had departed the mortal coil so no obligations there and I had - for the sake of my new found happiness - 'divorced' my family. 

     So - we spent the last three Christmases in Looe, Cornwall, in the Black Towers apartments overlooking the sea and the estuary, eating Christmas dinner cooked by Husband and drinking wine while watching the seagulls do their thing. Now that was MAGICAL

     This year we've decided to stay home for Christmas because we're beginning to like it again. Even enjoying it! We're having a Christmas dinner with our writing group and we're going to Birmingham Christmas Market. We are beginning to like it again. Took a long time coming. In the meantime, I do it every year. Whenever folk talk about the pressures of Christmas, the family obligations, I say: 'Don't do it! Say no! Be selfish!' 

     But I'm a fine one to talk. It took years for us to refuse to celebrate or socialise, and we used my depression for that, so I know it's not all that easy to do. But, if you are suffering mentally, you must do what's right for you, for your own sanity's sake. 

     It's four years since we absconded to Looe for Christmas. This year we're going to have a conventional Christmas tree and decorations and all. We have a mini pink, fluffy glittering tree with Rudolph the reindeer sitting underneath surrounded by Turkish delight, dates, cake, pudding, little pressies and wine for company, as long as Rudolph doesn't scoff the lot. It will be nice and we'll probably meet up with our daughter and her family after the day. That'll be absolutely fine. 

     How are you going to manage Christmas? 
     Or will you be brave and abscond?


Looe, Cornwall, at Christmas

CREATING MY ODYSSEY





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