Christmas may be many things but it is not simple and it is not easy. Shining a spotlight on any areas of uncertainty, it is the most gloriously unforgiving time of the year. Broke? Good luck with the presents, the party dresses. Single and minding it? Enjoy the constant reminders that you are all by yourself. Anxious? Revel in the endless decision making and people demanding you to commit to plans – maybe you’ll isolate and end up with no plans. That’ll be fun. Married? Well, even if you’re properly happy, there is bound to be a tricky in-law situation: infirm, insane, unbearable.
And Christmas has tentacles, slithery arms that reach back through December, November and October to grab us by the emotional balls. Christmas. It has to be thought about. It must be dealt with. How to please everyone and not end up horribly depleted and resentful? How to set boundaries without being actively cruel? ‘What are you doing for Christmas?’ is a difficult question. ‘How are you feeling about Christmas is more interesting.
Maybe, just maybe, if we all laid bare our feelings about this looming festive thing, we would start to process them? Perhaps, if we talked – to the appropriate few – about how complicated it seems, how lonely we feel, the pressure we are under, the resentments that we are cultivating, the sense of inadequacy that the prospect of ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ is throwing up. Well. Maybe we’d manage a merrier Christmas and – imagine this – a happier New Year.