It's Okay Not To Be Okay Over Christmas*

*This is a collaborative post*

For most, Christmas is a shining, glittering, multi-coloured light in the dark. It’s a time of celebration, family friends and togetherness. It’s a time for delicious food, sumptuous wine and enjoying a little too much of both. It’s a time for presents, stocking fillers, crackers, laughter and merriment. For some of us, though, it’s a time of sadness, loneliness, loss and depression that’s exacerbated by the culture of enforced joviality that permeates the season. For these unhappy few, the gaudy trappings of Christmas are a glaring reminder of just how much happier everyone else is than them. Each and every fairy light on the tree darkens their day. For these people, I have an important message…

It’s okay not to be okay over Christmas

Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one around this time of year and the season reminds you of that. Where everyone else sees the elaborate decorations, tinsel and tree, you see only the funeral homes and the caskets you were perusing while everyone else was doing their Christmas shopping. Where others see the promise of a New Year, you see only the heartbreak of old wounds. Perhaps you feel that the season has lost it's meaning in a haze of commercialism and corporate cynicism. Perhaps you can’t help but notice the way in which Christmas seems to bring out the worst in people in an orgy of overeating and drunkenness. Perhaps you’re worried about your finances and aren’t sure whether your plastic can take the strain of the seasonal spend-a-thon.

Whatever your reasons, it’s okay not to be okay… But you owe it to yourself to find some joy in the season, even if you’re looking in a different place to everyone else.

Remember, Christmas is what you make of it

If you find no joy in the traditions and trappings of Christmas, don’t feel that you have to embrace them in the name of tradition. Make it your Christmas and do what you want. If you want to have a marathon of alternative Christmas movies (think Die Hard, Batman Returns, Bad Santa or anything directed by Shane Black), feel free to be as subversive as you want. If you’d get more enjoyment from an extra large pepperoni pizza than a turkey with all the trimmings, you go ahead and do you!

Don’t be afraid to let it all out

The least productive thing you can do is push your feelings into the pit of your stomach in the interests of saving face socially. If you should find yourself engulfed by feelings of sadness as you unwrap presents with your friends or family, feel free to take yourself off for a discrete cry somewhere. Remember that whoever you’re with, they’re there for you and you won’t be ruining anyone’s Christmas by leaning on them.

Don’t spend a penny unless you want to

Don’t let advertising or social convention tell you otherwise, you needn’t spend a single penny on Christmas against your year. Be open and honest and explain to your friends and family that you’re not “doing” presents this year. If they’re worth keeping around, they’ll understand.

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