It’s less than nine weeks until Christmas and already the marketing is underway for another busy festive period, those of us running our own businesses are like frenzied proverbial headless chickens as our seasons become as crazy as they are wonderful.
This year will be my fourth year as a single parent to teens, juggling a dual career of writing and photography and for the very first time, I have a plan to make sure this Christmas is the one with the least stress and the most joy I’ve ever experienced.
Let me first give you some background: when I cook Christmas dinner, I cook a version for my son who has autism, a version for my veggie daughter and another for my youngest and myself. I don’t have any relatives apart from the kids and when I tried to schedule a date with friends to all get together for a soiree before the big day, all hell broke loose. After a couple of days of crying in the corner with utter frustration, I decided that I’m going to do things differently from now on.
For one, my best friend has invited us to go out to Christmas lunch at our local pub, no dishes, no cooking three versions of dinner and her lovely parents are the closest thing I have to family. The pub turns out to be dog-friendly too so even my beloved beagle gets to come along.
One daughter is staying with dad at Christmas, the other with me and my son, well, Aspergers means that he likes to know everything he’s going to get before he gets it and if it can be left at 2am outside of his room on Christmas morning with minimum fuss then he barely even has to join us for the day.
There’s so much pressure in the media about how we should do Christmas. Have you ever seen a Christmas movie without a happy ending? We see images of the perfect Christmas, the perfect couple, the perfect family and if I myself have to measure my own celebrations by that then I’m asking for a slow ride back to depression.
What I really want this Christmas is a festive season without guilt, without expectation and without judgment. Maybe it’s just my own anxieties which tell me I’m a failure because I won’t host 27 family members with a great aunt tipsy from too much sherry and don’t get me wrong, that’s something I actually fantasize about. No, what I really want is to not feel bad about the fact that my Christmas doesn’t really seem to measure up anymore to the family Christmases I used to have, I think it’s very probable that unless I make a stand and do things my own way, that my Christmas will always come attached to feelings of loss and aloneness and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this.
For the last couple of years I’ve had open house and extended an invite to anyone who was alone at Christmas to just come over, enjoy some food and drinks with me and my family, I can say now that the reason I did this was not just to help someone else but also to make myself less lonely.
So here and now I shall proclaim that this year will be the start of something new, I shall ignore the glossy images and the adverts, I shall start new traditions and I shall try more than ever just to be happy as I am and as my life is now.