How to have a merry Christmas

As Christmas approaches, our guest blogger, shares her experience of how she overcame her dread of Christmas and has found her own ways  to enjoy it.

Make a list of the things you love about Christmas. Make a list of the things you do at Christmas. Adjust as necessary.

Growing up, I loved Christmas as much as any other child. It’s the time of year you get to have chocolate for breakfast, spend relaxed time with family and (of course) get lots of presents. But as I approached my 12th Christmas, I realised I was starting to dread it.

I didn’t want to spend so much time pretending that I felt happy. I no longer enjoyed the festivities and I felt anxious in the busy crowds that surrounded so many Christmas traditions. That year, I did a good job of pretending. On my 13th Christmas I couldn’t keep up the act so well. By my 17th, everyone knew I hated Christmas. By my 20th  it had become a family joke.

A positive realisation

This year though, I have realised something. No one likes Christmas. Or at least, no one likes all of Christmas. Everyone has bits they don’t like. Maybe crowds, maybe Christmas shopping, maybe something else entirely. Much of the time, we might be pretending to be happy in order not to spoil it for other people who are also – as it turns out – pretending to be happy. Just like the rest of the year, there are good bits and bad bits for everyone. Even people who put up their trees in mid October. Even people who seem to have it all under control.

This does not sound like a positive realisation, does it. But for me, this takes the pressure off. I know that there is not something wrong with me because I don’t want to run excitedly around winter wonderland. That’s just one of my personal bad bits. I don’t have to enjoy these. (Most of the time, I don’t actually have to do these either.) But surely, I should get to have my own personal good bits. I started to try to remember what bits of Christmas I do like.

Isn’t the answer to ‘how to have a merry Christmas’ simply to do less of the bits I don’t like, and more of the bits I do?

So this year I’m not getting stressed out about Christmas shopping. If you’re on my Christmas list, you can look forward to a completely thoughtless gift I bought in the three for two sale. You can also look forward to me being happy, because I’m recapturing the bits of Christmas I always used to enjoy. I’m having friends over for chilled evenings and preparing my family for a Boxing Day walk. I’m having wonderfully tacky Christmas decorations and I’m eating chocolate for breakfast. 

I will still have bits of Christmas that I find difficult, but I will rest safe in the knowledge that so does everyone else. And I will try to carry myself through them by looking forward to all the things I’m doing that genuinely do make me feel – well 'merry'. 

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