This can be such a difficult time of year. Not only are there expectations about buying gifts for people, but it is very common to feel a requirement to see other people that we don’t much enjoy, or to spend time in activities that aren’t pleasurable to us. In this sense, Christmas can seem like the season of obligation, not celebration.
Running from our obligations
There can be such a strong temptation to escape from these obligations entirely, and to not buy gifts for some people, not turn up to the family function or to otherwise fly in the face of these obligations. The idea of having a Christmas without the obligatory aspects of it is such a pleasant and freeing thought for many people.
However we know there are almost certainly going to be ramifications for us in choosing to do what we want to do at Christmas. Family members might be hurt or angry, and this can be hard to deal with and may even have long term consequences. If we make the choice to break out of the familiar pattern at Christmas, we need to be prepared for what comes as a result.
Depending on our nature, we deal with this is different ways. Some of us attend the Christmas functions but don’t really participate, staying silent and uncommunicative. Others voice their objections, threaten not to come and when they do come, are combative. Either way, not much joy is had.
Making a change
If you are determined to make a break in your Christmas routine and turn it into something you would like more, perhaps this Christmas is the time to signal what you are planning to do next year. Maybe a brief holiday that spans Christmas or even a Christmas event that you host yourself. It might not be that these changes will go unchallenged and may still be upsetting; but despite the notions of tradition, family Christmas events do change and evolve; who of us is having the same Christmas with the same people at the same venue as we had 10 years ago?
On your terms?
Another approach might be to have Christmas more on your terms. Come when you can and go when you need to. Converse more with the people you enjoy, less with those you don’t. Bring a friend or go alone – try to make at least some part of it of your choosing. I also wonder that if people really knew how miserable Christmas made you feel, they might be open to change.
It might not be that you dislike Christmas; you might just dislike how Christmas is.
To all, I hope your Christmas is happy.
– Tim Hill