The trouble with Christmas is… Well, there can be several. The general rule is that it tends to expose what we already struggle with. It is therefore a useful pointer to what may need our attention.
In the run up to Christmas we are saturated with adverts of beautifully prepared food, tastefully decorated homes (colour-scheme essential), home-made gifts and menus for cosy (but rather impressive), get-togethers with friends and family. This feeds a belief that we live among those happy and oh-so-perfect people who effortlessly produce magical moments for their nearest and dearest. If you have a tendency to be a bit hard on yourself and compare yourself unfavourably to others, then Christmas can be a difficult time.
The spirit of Christmas is largely about human connectedness. So if that aspect is difficult for you then the festive season can be a challenge. There are many different reasons why we may struggle with being close to others. However, if you long for a sense of togetherness, being supported and sharing you life with others, then Christmas can really highlight the need to attend to what may be holding you back.
There are many diferent kinds of losses: a bereavement when somebody dear dies, end of a relationship, loss of health or losing an important aspect of your life, such as when children leave home. Whatever your loss, you will feel it more keenly around important occassions, such as Christmas or anniversaries, especially in the first year. However, if the pain seems just as intense and you feelings do not change over a long time, it may signal that you need some help with the grieving process.
Christmas time, with its extended time spent in close proximity to family and friends, can turn from Season to Be Jolly to time exposing underlying conflict. Conflict usually arrises when two people have different expectations about an issue. Often these expectations and the meaning attached to them them are never voiced. So if your Christmas was marred by tension and arguments, it may be time to sit down and talk and listen to each other. Curiosity about the other person, openness about ourselves, not being concerned about scoring points but wanting to get to know each other better will be helpful attitudes to keep in mind.
Many of us feel anxious around Christmas. Social gatherings can feel more a chore than pleasure. We may feel anxious about creating a lovely time for our nearest and dearest or feel apprehensive about the potential for conflict. However, if you find that the level of anxiety you experience most of the time is really spoiling your enjoyment of life, it may be a signal to do something about it.
So if any of the above seem familiar, think of your tough Christmas as a useful reminder of what needs attention in your life. It is very tempting to pack problems away with the Christmas decorations. But if you take steps to address the difficulty, your next Christmas might just be the best one yet!