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The Pleasures and Pains of Christmas

Our expectations of Christmas and the reality of very often so different.  We see all around us a sense of family togetherness, happy and jolly faces, children opening presents with delighted parents looking on, scenes of tables laden with food and drink, parties with happy people all celebrating with friends and family, Facebook pages showing people gathering together giving the impression they have a wide circle of friends and family.  All presenting themselves as being very happy. We are constantly being primed for this event in advance through media exposure, endless adverts on TV and pop-ups full of gift ideas. Some of us hold the religious aspect of Christmas and savour the ceremonies and carols.  We enjoy the little faces of the children in the school nativity plays leading up to the Christmas break.  This happy scene is experienced by so many, even though there is often a struggle to create this, whether it be financial or practical and which often have repercussions for months to come.

But what about the more emotional side of the occasion?

It is the expectation of how it should be that can create disappointment if that cannot be achieved and no one wants to disappoint their family! The reasons for this can be many.

It can be a time of significant distress if some of our loved ones are not present. Perhaps the distance between family members is created by geography.  Maybe there has been a severing of relationships caused by unresolved issues or maybe someone has died.  Some of us may be facing our last Christmas with a loved one who is facing a terminal illness.  Some people have no families and are homeless or very alone.

For all these reasons, pain and sorrow may also hang on the Christmas trees along with the sparkly decorations.

Bereavement or loss may cast a shadow over the Christmas table.  Family members who are no longer with us may be missed.  Sometimes there is relief in the fact that their suffering has come to an end, but other times there are feelings of sadness and loss as we realise that we will no longer celebrate another Christmas with that person. Often members of the same family experience very different thoughts and feelings, each having their own unique experience with the person they have lost.  Each may be reflecting on the Christmases past and the ones that will never be.  It can be helpful to mark these absences, rather than simply avoid them.  How about raising a glass or lighting a candle to salute and remember those no longer here?

We at The Counselling & Psychotherapy Centre in Old Town, Swindon, wholeheartedly wish that your Christmas time will be truly celebratory but if you have been affected by any of the issues we have raised here, do contact us for help on www.tcpc-swindon.co.uk or call 01793-514550 where you will find someone to assist you.

Don’t forget that Christmas doesn’t have to be someone else’s idea of Christmas, it can be your idea of Christmas so if you want to don walking boots, take a flask of coffee and head for a long walk with a friend or the dog, snuggle by the fire with a good book and a cheese sandwich, or dance around the living room to Mama Mia don’t give in to other people’s ideas, give into your own!