Like not having children, being ambivalent about Christmas, or choosing not to celebrate it is a decision that everyone likes to weigh in on. What kind of abnormal beast doesn’t partake in the happiest holiday of the year, after all? The assumption is that if one doesn’t like Christmas, or chooses to forgo it, they are simply a cranky nay-sayer. It’s assumed we are Grinches, patiently waiting on their own personal Cindy-Lou to turn their frown upside down. Before Grinches, we were Scrooges, and before him, there was probably another guy who preferred to go sit alone on a hill rather than partake in the festivities.
The thing is, I’m not pining away for someone guide me back into the world of Christmas. Nor am I recruiting for my quiet little festive-averse tribe. I’m just not a big fan of this time of year. I have my reasons for this, but as time goes on, they feel more a perverse means-test wherein the greater the amplitude of the tragedy, the less judged I feel for choosing not to acknowledge Christmas. Rather than hide behind a lousy past and hope for some understanding, these days I’d rather just be forthright and say I’m just not that keen on Christmas.
Of course, I’m not alone – this time of year is turbulent for many other folks with mental illness, with lack of access to services and isolation being major factors in this. Even without mental health as a factor, there are some people for whom the day holds no specific meaning, no interest. It is just another day. Unfortunately, it is just another day subject to a sea of marketing, platitudes and expectations, which makes it a hard time of year to lay low.
I have tried to be a more Christmassy person, I really have. I’ve capered around dressed as an elf for children. I’ve served up free lunches on the big day. I have written Christmas letters and sent them using festive stamps. But it although it might be a worthy contribution and my letter may have been comedy gold, it didn’t feel like me. The effort felt totally fraudulent, and ultimately I didn’t find out anything more profound than that I still didn’t enjoy Christmas, regardless of effort made to the contrary.
So spare a thought for the folk who struggle at this time of year, or the ones for whom it just doesn’t matter. Enjoying Christmas is beautiful for some, but not for all. We don’t feed upon your festive spirit to become stronger, and we won’t come burn down your Christmas tree. A little tolerance for the festively-challenged goes a long way – the only Christmas miracle we need is for it to be over with.
For information and support on surviving Christmas, visit https://www.pirgoldcoast.com.au/maintaining-mental-health-at-christmas/