Yesterday didn’t feel like Christmas Day. Today doesn’t feel like Boxing Day. Nothing about this weekend has felt even remotely Christmassy, not even the part when I was surrounded by wrapping paper and watching the Queen for her annual ten minute obligation to the Country. Instead it all felt a little bit, well, unusual.
It wasn’t through lack of trying. I really did try my best to get into the festive spirit these past few weeks. I went to some pretty amazing Christmas Markets, I made a much less amazing Gingerbread House, I even wrote my traditional Christmas poem; but none of it worked. When push came to shove, yesterday morning when I woke up I quite frankly didn’t care that it was Christmas. If anything I just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep for another hour.
Because that proverbial festive cheer just wasn’t filling the air. The only thing that lingered in the air was a feeling which was, as I’ve already said, quite unusual. That’s because it’s been an unusual couple of weeks. In the space of 14 days I’ve experienced everything from a family death, to witnessing the most glorious of weddings, with a whole load of other things mixed in between. It means that emotions have been uncontrollably turbulent, with practically everybody I care about shedding tears all round me. Some of these have been happy, and some of these have been not so happy; all of them have been thought provoking.
But if there’s one thing that we can agree on it’s that it sure doesn’t feel like Christmas around here. Not for any of us.
Because one way or another our heads just haven’t been in Christmas mode. We’ve been distracted to the point where Christmas has passed us by just like any other day would have, which has in turn made me realise quite an important, but much less publicised message of Christmas. One which I guess you only figure out once you get a little bit older.
Christmas Day is just another day.
Don’t get me wrong here, Christmas can be absolutely marvellous, but it can also be intensely painful. It can – like in my case – be rather unusual, or – for some – it can just be another day at work. Not too many people seem to understand this. Even fewer people seem to offer allowances for it.
Instead there seems to be an unwritten understanding that December 25th has to be the most perfect day of the year, which demonstrates a most perfect life, where you have to do a load of self-imposed rituals for it to count. Like you have to have the big pile of Instagram worthy presents so you can caption your day #spoilt, and you have to eat your body weight in pigs in blankets before lunch has even been served, and you have to surround yourself with a picture perfect family who all wear matching festive jumpers. Anything less than that can’t possibly constitute a real Christmas.
Now while that version is lovely, it doesn’t take into consideration the people who experience loss and loneliness on Christmas Day; who go to bed early on Christmas night just to diminish their own heartache. Or the people who just have quite an ordinary day, but end up feeling irrational guilt because they haven’t done all the Christmas things they’re ‘supposed to.’ For these people it’s actually a blessing to see the lights go off and the calendar flip back around to January because then the social pressures of having that effortlessly held together life are slightly alleviated. (There’s still the pressures of perfection that come from Facebook, but that’s another post.)
In an ideal world everybody would have a Christmas that is as wonderful as the ones portrayed in those cheesy, cliche Christmas movies – with the holidays containing nothing but joyous celebrations – but it’s sadly not the case. Life doesn’t stop because it’s Christmas. Pain doesn’t vanish because there’s tinsel everywhere and a tub of Quality Street in the corner. Christmas can be painful, and it can be ordinary, and that’s okay. It’s life. Nothing about that should be shameful.
And if you don’t believe me, then believe J K Rowling. (She summed it up far better than I can…)
Remember, Christmas Day is, in the end, just a day. It isn’t a test or a scorecard of you or your life, so be kind to yourself ❤️