The Myth of the “Perfect” Christmas

It’s the time of year where we are bombarded with images of the “perfect” Christmas.  Adverts show us the family meal with extended family all gathered as they laugh and joke together.  They play games and moderately drink together. But is this real or perfect.  For those of you who are fans of “I am a celebrity get me out of here” you will know that there was a question to campmates on one of their challenges where they needed to find the percentage of the population that think the Christmas is “the most magical time of the year”.  The conversation was interesting as the celebrities chose the higher 55% believing that “everyone loves Christmas”.  I on the other had was screaming at the TV that it was the lower figure and of course it was.

Many of my clients have been discussing how their experience of Christmas is not “normal” whatever normal is!  The image we are shown by the media is often not what many people experience.

Christmas can be a tough time for many for lots of reasons.  If you have suffered a bereavement not just this year but in previous years Christmas can be a challenge.  You may have suffered some other type of loss or transition.  Loss of a relationship, job, children moving out or moving on meaning that Christmas may be different.  You may have been diagnosed with an illness that has resulted in significant changes in your life.  Moving home, arrival of a baby or other new family member.  Even events that are positive still involve change and for many change is hard.  All these reasons mean Christmas may be hard and that’s without family feuds and arguments, strained family relationships, issues around alcohol or food.  The list goes on and on and you begin to realise that it’s OK to struggle at this time of year.

So, are there things you can do to help yourself through this season?  Maybe think of some of these things….

* It is only one day.  We now live in a world which very rarely slows down or stops which in fact causes its own issues for those who may need to work over Christmas.  But it is one day, take time to think about what is important about the day.

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* Having the perfect day doesn’t have to be about what the media tells us is perfect.  Re-phrase it to perfect for you.  If spaghetti bolognese, a good book and PJ’s is your perfect that’s fine.  Try not to feel pressure from others to conform to their idea of perfect.

* Following on from the last point if someone says to you they are doing something differently they accept that with no judgement.  Their perfect is fine.

* Don’t be afraid to do something different.  Certainly, in the case of people who may have lost someone or something which results in Christmas feeling different often trying to do it in the same way can highlight the difference.  So, consider taking control and doing things differently.  Make new traditions.

* Remember friends are the family you choose.  You may be surprised how many people don’t always want to visit family.  They may be unable to visit family for various reasons.  Don’t presume that “everyone spends the day with family” – be brave enough to ask!  You may just find that they would love to spend the time with you.

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* Lastly, be kind to yourself.  Goodwill to all Men (and women and children) means goodwill to yourself too.  We are all our own worst critic so maybe decide to take at least one day off the criticism, you never know it might extend more than a day 😉

Peaceful Christmas wishes whatever you chose for you.