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The truth about Christmas

I know a lot of people won’t want to read this today of all days and might call me a kill-joy but I think it’s an uncomfortable truth for many people: Christmas is an anti-climax.
From the end of October (and sometimes earlier), ideals of the “perfect” Christmas are thrust upon us. Adverts on television tell us that this involves consuming as much as possible: expensive gifts for our loved ones, tables laden with mounds of food and alcohol and households full of friends and family. The picture of the perfect Christmas is pretty standard. It usually involves smiling faces, lots of expense and a Frank Sinatra soundtrack. The issue I have with this is that any deviation from this used to make me feel inadequate in some way.
My parents broke up three years ago. Before you picture me lying on a therapist’s couch weeping like James van der Beek, I’m fine. Our Christmases as a family had become gradually more and more depressing (on our last Christmas together I suffered a seizure and my brother left the meal after about twenty minutes, eat your heart out Chandler Bing) but the breakup of our family was a huge change in all of our lives. It was Christmas 2010 that we all decided that it would be best to go our separate ways at Christmas. My brother spent it with his girlfriend (now wife), my sister spent it with her fiancé and daughter and I decided to spent it with Jack.
Between the three of us, we decided to split up going to both parents over the day. It was messy and unconventional but we got through it.
What affected me most though was the expectations I put on myself to provide the perfect Christmas for Jack. I know now that Jack didn’t expect it himself, it was all me. And it mostly came from movies and adverts. I know this makes me sound like some gullible and highly suggestible idiot but who can blame me? Images of the “perfect” Christmas surround us. And what upset me was that I would no longer have any of this. Instead of a table surrounded by family members both young and old, it would just be Jack and I. Instead of a succulent turkey, it would have to be something more suitable for two. And I’d have to cook it (although we both cook now). Instead of party tricks, crackers and watching the children play with their toys, I would just be with Jack. I have no issue with that at all, but it felt just like any other day of the week. And that’s it. Christmas Day is just another day of the week. But I remember feeling huge pressure and I don’t remember actually enjoying that first Christmas together, which is a pity.
I don’t want to be a buzz kill. I enjoy Christmas, I really do. But I think we put far too much pressure and expense on ourselves in order to have the most perfect experience. We don’t need to spend large amounts of money or spend hours toiling in the kitchen to create a nice day. Think about it: the more and more you build up Christmas and the more and more pressure we put on ourselves to make it “perfect”, then the more disappointed we will feel when it doesn’t turn out quite as we had expected.
This might seem like a pessimistic outlook. I don’t believe it is; I think it’s sensible. Today, Jack and I had a lovely meal, we watched Toy Story 3, we played with our pets, we called our families and we snuggled in front of the fire. We decided, after years of panicking about what the other wanted, to negate buying each other gifts. Instead, Jack made me breakfast and I cooked the dinner.
Right now, we are comfortable and happy. We are not surrounded by fairy lights, turkeys, elves, people or Frank Sinatra. And that is totally okay.
I hope, whoever is still reading this, that you have the Christmas experience that YOU feel comfortable with, not the one you think you should have. It’s much more relaxing and peaceful this way.

14 thoughts on “The truth about Christmas

  1. bensbitterblog says:

    You are right and I kinds stole some of this for my blog. It really is kind of an anti-climatic day. All the anticipation from September to December 24th and all kind of bursts out like a balloon the day of.

  2. Lindsey (Currie) Dubois says:

    I’m usually a holiday person, all the way. I love the energy of it all…. The love, joy and coziness makes my heart melt in bliss. Though I agree, the actual day is anti-climactic….it’s just the days or weeks leading up to it are so magical to me.

    I don’t usually buy anyone gifts and I don’t usually receive many either… The holidays in my life have truly turned into a time of togetherness (or solitude) and I’m usually just in a place of warm fuzzy gratitude for all that is.

    This year was different. I was sick and my celebration was wrought with stress…. I was never in the mood for the holiday this year… And admittedly, I am so looking forward to the holidays being over….

    There’s always next year, right?

    Great post and thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Happy New Year!
    Lindsey

    • janeybgood says:

      When I wrote this, I was experiencing all kinds of head cold symptoms and general bah-humbuggery but I still do maintain that Christmas Day is always quite uneventful. I find it exhausting and like you, I was too sick to enjoy it.
      I did find that deciding to not purchase gifts was decidedly liberating.
      Hopefully next year will be better but I say that every year!
      Thanks for the comment!

  3. Wordifull Melanie says:

    So true…a lot of unneeded pressue. I’m too guilty of self imposed pressure…I want everything to be perfect bu it never is. Part of my issue is that my childhood sucked and Christmas wasn’t picture perfect in the slightest so I try to make it so now.

    I have learned to tone it down some now though. So instead of lights outside and the whole house decorated we had a small tree and that is all. I had to have some lights🙂

    And since the money ust isn’t there this year we just did one small gift each…but something we needed…

    I still stressed over the dinner…it came out nice in the end🙂

    Oh and “weeping like James van der Beek” made me snort…fyi🙂

    • janeybgood says:

      Yeah we did basically the same this year: instead of decorations, we got a lovely tree from a local garden centre and decorated it very simply. We chose not to buy each other gifts at all, which turned out to be great. I also didn’t spend half as much time cooking, and dinner was still lovely. So we didn’t have lots of leftovers, we had a roast chicken instead of turkey.
      I think it’s best not to over complicate it in your own head first.
      Thanks for the comment and also, James van der Beek cry-face is a favourite of mine haha!

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