Christmas baking for Why I struggle at christmas.

Why I Struggle With Christmas

Christmas baking for Why I struggle at christmas.
Photo by Lina Kivaka from Pexels
Do you struggle with Christmas? I do. A lot. I’ve touched on them in the past, my feelings for this time of year I mean. This year has felt harder somehow. I have been looking at all of the wonderful posts linking up to different memes and their advent calendar or Christmas-sy prompts. I feel a bit like the child with his face up against the steamy sweet shop window, wishing he could go in for some penny sweets but not having the pennies to do so.

But I can’t join in.

No, that’s not true. I CAN join in, but I choose not to. When I saw the prompt for Quote Quest I wasn’t going to join in. The quote hit me hard, winding me. But I didn’t wish to bring everyone down at their favourite time of year. Didn’t think it was kind to put a cloud on your festive sparkles, rain on your Christmas parade. But then I saw LSB’s tweet and thought maybe it would be ok to share?
Do you like Christmas? Perhaps you don’t and it brings up all sorts of feelings! I want to know all about them for this week’s #QuoteQuest

Let’s start with why I struggle with Christmas:

It started back as a little girl. The big family christmas was always full of tension, and what I now refer to as “Forced Fun”. Nobody seemed to enjoy any of it very much. My mum would wear herself into the ground, trying to cook the perfect dinner. When offered help she would reject it, and then huff at not getting the support she wanted but never accepted!

As the years passed my dad became unwell, and my early teen christmases were spnt in hospital, trying to make the best of a sad, sad situation. Once he died there was a Dad shaped hole, not just in Christmas but in my life in general. And we “celebrated” in the best way we could as a grieving family.

And then I met and married Mr Christmas.

Up until I met P I would always make gifts for people, but over the course of our marriage the few things that I had managed to hold onto that made me feel festive slowly got snuffed. My homemade shortbreads, jams, bath bombs, knitwear… all of a sudden they were used a sammunition for what made me such a rubbish person to know. If we didn’t spend, spend, spend then we would look like bad people. And don’t even get me started on the Christmas movies that he would start us watching in September!

I couldn’t even escape his festive spirit at work for many years. Working in retail management, and with my pleasant disposition in the face of rudeness, I was often put on queue management. The Christmas spirit seemed very much alive, and malignant. Every day in the build up to Christmas, people would become more poisonous towards staff and fellow customers. That can do things to a girl.

Even after I left P he continued to dominate my festivities. His facebook posts were all about how much I had ruined his Christmas. His conversations with the children were damaging for them, his hurt, his pain… All my fault, apparently, which caused difficulties in my mother-child relationshps. And then there was the weight of expectation I felt, to make Christmas as spectacular as possible for the children! The first year post P-removal was the last year I bowed to expectations. And the boys still have a magnificent time!

But how do I struggle with Christmas?

Over the years I have found that there is only so much christmas cheer that I can produce. In much the same way I use the spoon theory for everyday life, I think it applies here too. But my spoons, which have always been in short supply, have been heavily depleted over time.

The prompt quote this year hit a nerve with me, there were definitely tears. Though I’m not sure if that is because of illness or because of the words. The words in the quote as well as those making up this post.

“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” ~~Garrison Keillor~~

You see, for me the thing that hurts so much about Christmas is that it’s compulsory. You can’t escape from it. From radio and TV, to the lights and throngs of Christmas shoppers. This year I must admit that I am missing the nativity at school, and the church service. Not because I’m religious (I’m not, another reason Christmas doesn’t hold much draw) but because the children are amazing and I love to watch them sing and perform.

And Christmas can feel incredibly lonely for me. Possibly because I pull away from everything, and avoid those situations that make me feel horrid. The family gatherings, even when attended on my terms, highlight all of my “failings”, leave room for little jealousies and insecurities to poke their noses in. Little comments cause unintended pain. The memories that are being made becoming tarnished by the little put downs.

Will I always struggle with Christmas?

I think on some level I will. I am naturally not into “special days” preferring to share my love and attention all through the year, rather than when a calendar dictates. And when I say I don’t like Christmas, that isn’t entirely true. I dislike the exhaustion of keeping up with my excited children, the financial pressures of buying gifts, the lack of time to make special presents for those I love… I do enjoy watching the joy on my childrens faces as we open up our stockings on Christmas morning.

Christmas 2017 marked a change for us. The boys and I created a new tradition, one that I will share soon. As we approach the fourth incarnation of our little family-christmas, I have noticed I have another spoon. Something that I look forward to using at Christmas. And as we share our fabulously happy christmas picture each year I am also heartened by the number of friends who wish they could celebrate in the same way. I say heartened. I kind of mean it, but not really. Because it means they are stuck in (my idea of) Christmas Hell, and don’t feel able to make the change they wish for. But that is their journey, not mine.

So this year, while I look on at all of the festive posts, and sit on the outside looking in. At the same time I will keep in mind that I’m an outdoors girl and continue to budget my Christmas cheer so that I can spend it on my boys.

So that they don’t see just how much I struggle with Christmas.

QuoteQuest
Follow the link above to see what everyone else is sharing for Christmas, and you can find more of my Quote Quest Posts here.

15 comments

  1. It’s always draining to live up to others expectations to join “forced fun” – no amount of muted words can suppress that onslaught. Coupled with Retail customers that are hateful, entitled and aggressive melts the last spoon.

    It’s definitely not my time of year either. Maybe that’s a post I should have written too🤔

    I gift throughout the year so I’m glad you’re finding “new traditions” for your family

    Wishing you all a safe and healthy time
    Swirly 🌻🧚🏻‍♀️

    1. You’re right, it is utterly exhausting.

      Setting my own expectations for this time of year, with the children, has given me something happy to consider at this time of year. Rather than dwelling on being a let down for everyone else.

      I also like to show my love and care throughout the year, why limit myself to the times I am told to gift?

      I look forward to your post on the subject 🙂 it has definitely been interesting to read so many others struggle too.

      N x

  2. I’m watching the news here and it is looking as if they might cancel the lifting of restrictions over Christmas. That cause a lot of reaction.

    I have never liked Christmas. But I do like time off work, I do like seeing family.

    1. I’m just catching up with the news. It seemed that “restrictions are unlikely to change” this morning.

      I shall be enjoying an adventure with my smalls so won’t be affected by changes, but feel for those who enjoy the festivities with family celebrations

  3. I dislike all the pressure of a perfect Christmas for all my own reasons . I decided to not do a tree or Dec’s a few years ago and do mostly my own thing in my own way and it’s so much easier . XX

    1. I love your Christmases CC. We have the tree up, and decorations. It is important for the boys. But we have awesome memories in the making xx

  4. One of the reasons why I dislike Christmas, is because of the compulsory nature of it. You *have * to cook a meal for the entire family, you *have* to celebrate it together, you *have* to buy presents, you *have* to be happy and jolly and love everything about Christmas, because… it’s Christmas. I don’t entirely dislike Christmas, I just dislike the compulsory things around it, and this year, for the very first time, there were no underhand hints from others about the way Master T and I want to spend Christmas, but only acceptance. So this year, for the first time, I look at my sparse Christmas decorations with a smile, and look forward to those two Christmas days which will be spent the way we want, and not the way others expect of us. I love that you have created a new tradition with your boys, and make your own Christmas memories 🙂
    ~ Marie

    1. I was chatting to the boys earlier about my relationship with Christmas. Small one (7) summed it up perfectly for me “you don’t like the Christmas out there, but you love making memories and having adventures with us” he’s a wise little creature. I love the way we have created something special for us, and I’m gladden to read that you’ve found a way to do the same N x

  5. I guess I’m in the minority here, but I love Christmas! Most years the memories made are positive! I enjoy coming home from work with Christmas lights! It makes me feel good. I enjoy giving gifts to others. I enjoy the family time. This year will be different. We will have a family zoom on Christmas. But it will be a new memory. And I’ll think back on it fondly at some point.

    1. This gladdens me Michael, I imagine your children grew up loving it too?
      I think you may only be in the minority in my corner of the Internet though. I’m glad not to feel shame about my Christmas feelings anymore. And it is the only calendar event which brings a sense of foreboding for me.

      Our Christmas is a little different this year, not due to covid but instead their weekend with their dad falls from boxing day. So we are sharing for the first time. But the boys still get their favourite bits with me, which is nice.

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