Over the years I have written often about Christmas. It is a holiday that can make me happy, make me sad, or at times make me enraged when the constant bombardment from the machine is that you need this and you need that to have a happy Christmas. Even that Christmas MUST be happy otherwise you have failed.
Over the years I have done it: striven for the perfect Christmas. When in fact the question I should have asked myself is ‘What is Perfect?’ I learned from my adventures in France that what makes a perfect Christmas is people and home and feeling safe, and surrounded by those we love and things we love. It is not the gifts, RD and I could not afford gifts for most of our time in France, and we certainly had to make do with what we had, not what we thought we needed. All of the lessons we learned were hard, but we are grateful for them.
As I write that it makes me realise how lucky I was, and still am, to have people, furry family and beautiful things around me – just that is a gift. I think of the poor people in Ukraine, and those families in Russia whose loved ones have been made to go to the front line. I think of the homeless, and those with mental health problems. I think of the bereaved, and the lonely, those caring for others, I think of so many things. More than anything I think of how those situations can all be compounded by this ‘Happy’ time of year.
Given the year we have had, it has got me thinking about the poignancy of Christmas. When we remember loved ones that are no longer with us. I particularly think of those for whom this will be their first Christmas without their loved ones around them, I think of all the people I have just mentioned. It can make the, at times, forced jollity of Christmas particularly hard. A sharp poignancy with regard to the circumstances that people find themselves in.
Christmas for us will not be a totally jolly affair, but more a mellow affair, where we remember those we have lost and understand that this is the end of something, and that we are on the cusp of making new. Even if we didn’t want to. Even though that can be hard.
There is a particularly poignant advert on TV at the moment that shows someone going to Christmas parties, and meeting up with people, they have a smiling face, they laugh and joke, but beside them is a face emoji that looks sad, or upset, or even angry. It sums it up so well. Although people may appear to be one thing, they may well be another, or even both.
Please don’t tell people to cheer up, remind them that life goes on, or that they have others to think of. With regard to those that have lost please don’t tell them ‘ well at least you gave them a wonderful life’ or ‘ At least they had you with them.’ Or in our case ‘Well at least you have Elfie now’. It doesn’t help, it just makes people feel guilty for feeling so sad, and shames them into not saying anything.
The wonderful Brene Brown once said , no empathy begins with the words ‘at least.’ There is no ‘at least’ when people are low, or sad, or grieving. All you can offer is understanding and sometimes even just sitting with them in silence.
So despite all of the hype this Christmas, perhaps the best thing we can give each other for Christmas is a listening ear, a moment of our time, a hug. We cannot make it better for people, but we can show them that we care in the most simplest of ways. I know I will be.
Big hugs to you all – have a mellow Christmas folks.
In this world of turmoil let’s just be kind this Christmas