For most people, Christmas is a time of stress. Rushing to get the right presents, far too many tipples to stay standing and a lot of overtime to afford the latest new “it” item for that someone special. All the stress is generally worth it when you get to sit down on Christmas day, open your presents, stuff your face and watch the same movies you did last year.
I find Christmas very hard, I don’t spend it with family, my routine is skewed and ever-changing and the key people in my life come in and out quite frequently. Each year I find myself upset for a good chunk of the day until in the evening, my closest friends come and spend it with me. We play games, we laugh and chat and then everybody goes home.
I know I’m lucky, just to have that. Those few hours are great. But each year I find myself, dreading Christmas, I find it to be a very sad time of year. I stress in a selfish way. I worry about my happiness, I worry if people will be able to come, I worry that this year might be the year that I spend Christmas alone.
A few years ago, Christmas came about a month after I had hit rock bottom. I cancelled Christmas in my house that year. I never put up a tree, I didn’t buy presents and I spent the day, wishing for it to end. I cried a lot and went to bed vowing that I’d never feel that way again.
This might also be a good time to note that Christmas day, the 25th of December is also my birthday. So all of the above stings just that little bit harder.
This year, my life is in a much better place than it was all those years ago, but Christmas is still hard. Watching everybody enjoy happy, family traditions is a blatant reminder that I’m different. I’m happy for those people but Christmas and jealousy are starting to become connected by my brain. Even though I know I’m not, it;s hard not to feel like the only one who won’t have a “normal” Christmas.
So this year… This fabulous 2016, wherein I’ve made a lot of personal progress, I’ve decided to change Christmas for myself.
Christmas on My Terms
Tonight, I sat down with a solitary piece of paper and a pen. In the middle of the page, I wrote and circled “Christmas”. A mind map of sorts, the page is filled with things that make me think of Christmas from trees, presents and games to red, creativity and charity.
I mapped out how I want to feel. And I aligned those feelings with actions I can take to generate those emotions. Here are a few of those action items.
Each year, I stress about the tree and the general decor of the house. I always want it to be a special time for me and my boyfriend to spend together. Romantic. But he hates it. So I end up a frazzled mess, annoyed that he won’t help, pissed off that I’m doing it alone and hating that everyone gets to enjoy the benefits but no one else lifted a finger.
This year the tree is for me. We aren’t together anymore so asking him to help is out of the question. I’m going to make my own tradition. I’ll wait until everyone has gone to bed, light the fire, put on classic 1920’s Christmas songs, pour myself a glass of Moscato and put the tree together for myself. When the decorations are done, I’ll snuggle up in my PJs, under a fluffy throw and read for a while by the light of the tree or pick an old-school movie and relish the time alone.
Random Acts of Kindness
Christmas is supposed to be about giving. In recent years, the kindness has gone out the window. I love Christmas miracles, and warm stories of people helping each other so For the next 10 days, I’m going to give. Compliments, notes, care packages, donations the works.
My birthday is celebrated every few years. Being born on Christmas day makes it hard to create plans, people have so much to do and so little money. This year, I’m planning a birthday, everyone else gets one so why shouldn’t I? It won’t be anything grand, maybe dinner and drinks or even just drinks, something to mark the day. Something to remind myself that I’m here and that’s important. That’s what birthdays are about, right?
The Day itself
D-day… or C-Day or B-Day, whatever way you want to look at it. It’s coming whether I want it to or not. So this year, I’m going to make a plan, I’ll invite people, I’ll know in advance what my options are for the day and I can create something that will be enjoyable, regardless of how many people actually show up.
And that’s it so far, there’s much more I want to plan, and think about but now is not the time. For now, I’m happy with just making the decision and fingers crossed it goes well.