Pondering Christmas with the help of the Comfort Fairy
I have a little pattern of thoughts on loop at the moment that goes a bit like this…
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
No it isn’t.
“‘Tis the season to be jolly…”
No it isn’t.
Because, for me, winter isn’t this magical season full of jolliness and cheer. It’s the opposite. I live in the UK so…It’s dark. Grey. Cold. Wet. Bleak.
And I struggle sometimes to be festive.
Three years ago was particularly rough – I’d been through a break up, was living with my (very kind) brother and his girlfriend having left my home, and my dog was living with my (very patient) parents. Although I was in a good place in some ways, as Christmas approached I just felt sick. After talking to a couple of friends who never really ‘do’ Christmas, I opted out of all festivities, walked the dog, cried a lot and ate pizza. It was a tough day but I know it could’ve been worse. And opting out was what I felt I needed to do to cope that year; it needed to just be another day.
A realisation dawned on me as I thought about that year and everyone going through tough Christmases this year…
Winter is hard. Just plain difficult regardless of what might be going on in your life at the time.
Our systems are often run down, we’re not getting enough vitamin D, it feels like the sun has abandoned us and then we add in this sudden intense pressure to do Christmas Things in a particular way (be jolly, spend all the money, buy perfect presents for everyone, see family, overeat)…and that can just feel like too much.
But then I remembered…
We invented Mid-winter celebrations like Christmas because winter is hard.
The Christians were wise to move Christmas to match the pagan calendar to convert the Northern Hemisphere. We need a celebration to mark the coming of the sun, as the nights stop lengthening and the days start lengthening instead. We need things like candles and warm food, evergreens, fires, companionship, compassion and sharing.
It’s not meant to be an extra stress or pressure; we didn’t invent it to make ourselves feel crap (there’s a whole host of reasons why it might have become that), but in its honest heart, it’s the opposite.
A time to take a breath. To recognise the darkness and that we are in its heaviest time. To find the light wherever we can. To be a light for others when we can.
And even though this year I’m feeling quite excited about Christmas, having those thoughts set me free.
It helped me to see that when I do struggle to feel happy and festive, that’s ok. If I don’t manage to send cards to everyone who sends me one, it’s alright. If I can’t get my act together to give gifts, that’s ok too. If I need to opt out, to reshape Christmas to suit where I am at the time, that’s do-able.
This year, I’m sending Christmas-time cards because I’ve missed the post. And that’s ok.
So whatever the last year has brought you, in whatever position you find yourself in at Christmas; the biggest gift is to be gentle with yourself.
If we can remember that at the heart of these winter holidays is the idea of bringing light to the darkness, we might behave quite differently. If you’re feeling dark and the fairy lights of Christmas are only making things gloomier, it’s ok to turn them off.