Advice: How do I hate Christmas less?

IMG_3436Advice Column Question: How do I hate Christmas less?  Ya know?

Answer: Yep. I know. But I don’t think you hate Christmas. I think you are grieving.

I call it the un-nameable Christmas sadness and it shows itself in many forms.

One of my highlighted bad memories of Christmas was looking out of our living room window on Christmas morning at the snow falling softly on my Dad’s car as he slept inside it. The presents had not been touched. We were all too sad and worried about what we did to hurt his feelings to unwrap any gifts yet. I think I was about 11. My brother was 8.

There was also the year I knew it would be my moms’ last Christmas and I still wouldn’t dance the jive with her in the kitchen.

I could go on and fucking on.

Almost every Christmas I’ve ever had has been steeped in stress and anxiety.

I’m not sure what your story is but I’m pretty confident that as a child Christmas brought about the un-nameable sadness for you and now when it comes around, you feel the pressure to perform, enjoy yourself and be a good person when really, you want to crawl into bed alone and moan softly till it’s over.

I get it.

But the secret is- your pain comes from the effort of not letting yourself feel the pain.

You know?

So, I feel sad during the holidays.

I actually prepare for it.

I plan to sleep as much as possible.

I know that by 4pm the darkness will roll in so I shouldn’t make any big evening plans.

I don’t go shopping after December 19th.

I try to surround myself with people I like.

I take breaks. I hide out.

I let friends do nice things for me and I try to do nice things for my friends.

You’ve had many little traumas over your life and Christmas is the week that asks you to unwrap them in front of your loved ones.

Don’t bother.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a bummer to everyone around you. Just sink into your quietness, treat yourself like you have the flu, move slowly, and whenever you get the spazzy, ringing in your ears stop whatever you’re doing, go into a room, turn off the lights, lie down and rock.

That’s what I’m doing right now.

My family is upstairs, they are good people and I’m very lucky to have them. But I’m still holding back tears throughout the day. I can’t even say why.

So tonight I came down to my room, opened my computer and wrote you back. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone in the un-nameable sadness. And we don’t need to find a name for it, or have an excuse or reason for its being here. The darkest night of the year is upon us, let’s huddle up and cozy in and then when we can do it, take a blanket- go outside and look at all the twinkly lights.

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Comments 14

  1. This is my Christmas present. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying the shit nobody would dare say. For describing perfectly the way it feels to “hate Christmas” – whatever the hell the reason – and for suggesting beautifully just how to be honest to take care of ourselves however we need. I am in my room rocking in the dark, but so glad to know you and others are out there doing the same. Just a few more days and the madness will stop.

    1. Thank you for this. Christmas is the worst day for me because all I see is my Grandma’s birthday and how in her last years she felt unloved by everyone except me. I loved her like a mother and not celebrating her day with cupcakes like we used to is still so hard and no one gets that because it’s Christmas. Thank you for helping me be ok with how I feel.

  2. Oh my stars and garters, I needed to read this. After all these years of fighting this season and pushing myself to appear to enjoy it, I feel like this piece gives me permission to do what I have always wanted to do — sit quietly and let this season pass over me with as few ripples in my emotional pond as possible. Yes, yes, yes, it is okay to feel this way.

  3. The reason why so many people hate Christmas is the overkill which means waste, expense, stress and debt. People having to take time out of their busy live to buy presents for ungrateful people which are usually the wrong thing. Nothing but Christmas songs on the radio and Christmas parties on TV all through December. The shops are too crowded so when you do need to go out to buy something you have to struggle against the crowds. It’s not the sad memories of the day. Let’s face who hasn’t got those. It’s the season of flu after all. Nobody has perfect Christmases all their life. There are sad memories associated with every occasion and time of year as life isn’t perfect and things go wrong. Expect less and you won’t be disappointed.

  4. Thank you for this post. I have been clinically depressed for years, most times controlled well with meds, but the Christmas season is the dragon I cannot slay, the fight I cannot win, no matter what I try. I have a loving family, and am surrounded by all good things, but every year I get sucked into that deep, dark cave.
    Thank you for the validation-December 26 is right around the corner.

  5. I used to hate it too. I used to dread it the same. I loved the idea and hated the actual moments. I dont anymore. I made a decision to stop letting the past run my present. That if I wanted to love the day then I needed to do that and nothing else.

    It seems simple to say it was a choice but it really was. It didnt happen over night either. It took years to get from A to B and it was a struggle. I forced myself to do things I didnt want to do and put on a happy face for others so they didnt see the unhappiness I was feeling. Eventually, it all became real. Yes, feel the sadness, the misery, anxiety all of it. Then, open the door and allow yourself to feel the love and happiness.

    Years later, I still have my moments. I want to be done early. I want everyone to leave so I can be quiet and alone. I usually have to wait but that is ok too.
    I honor your struggle and your feelings. You have every right to them. But know this, it doesnt have to be the end all of everything.

    Good luck to you and Merry Christmas.

  6. Thank you for this. It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone in this. This is the time of year I dread the most – made so much worse by the Pity Invites and the clueless people. Only 48 hours to go and it will be over!

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  7. I just discovered your site. Thank you for posting such brave, authentic words. This post, along with several of your others, are very much appreciated.

  8. I don’t even know who shared this on Facebook, but I wish I did so I could go and thank them. I *really* needed to read this. I really really needed to know that I’m not alone in this, and that it’s ok for it to be how it is. Thank you so much. <3

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  9. Pingback: End of 2014, beginning of 2015. | theatre for people who hate theatre

  10. Thank you for this. Today is Nov. 29th. I’ve been feeling “un-namable” sadness and I can’t put my finger on why, or maybe I can I just don’t want to. I go around saying I hate Christmas, and being told that I’m a grinch but that’s not really the case. Something about all that is the Christmas of today saddens me. Not to mention the extreme amout of stress, anxiety, pressure to conform, pressure to make it perfect for my children could really put anyone in a frenzy. I needed to feel like I was not alone in this feeling and I stumbled upon this. I’ll be reading it many times over the coming month. Thank you again.

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