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When Christmas is Hard: on the season’s unique challenges

Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash

Christmas is fast approaching and for most of us, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. For others, Christmas is hard.

Reasons why vary from person to person. It might be that way for only a season or two (or a few). Say, due to personal loss or change in lifestyle.

For others, the season can be difficult due to an introverted personality. All those big, gregarious gatherings are anathema to a quiet soul.

Maybe you come from a dysfunctional family. Holidays are a time when toxicity runs high. Family to you means not comfort, but conflict, or even danger.

For me, Christmas has always been hard for all of the above reasons. Add to that the experience of feeling shamed for not loving the holidays.

Lonely not alone

Christmas has always felt lonely to me, but that has had nothing to do with the number of people involved.

I come from a large extended family with incredibly high levels of toxicity and dysfunction. So, the season was never about joy for me, but conflict and obligation.

Later, I married into an enmeshed family, so the obligation doubled. I abandoned myself completely in a desperate attempt to meet everybody’s needs except my own.

We had to travel to spend time with both of my divorced parents. Then we had to spend more time with my spouse’s demanding family.

Since I had made no attempts to understand myself, my introverted and HSP personality went unheeded.

Everything I did during the Christmas season crushed my soul. And anytime I tried to express that to my spouse, he shamed me.

Christmas is hard
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

You might guess, correctly, that I ended up with a divorce of my own. And, for the first time, I had a day to myself over Christmas.

My children went to their father’s at noon on December 25, after opening presents at my place. Then I had the whole glorious day to myself.

I can remember going for a run alone on Christmas afternoon and thinking there was nothing else I’d rather be doing.

I received kind invitations to Christmas dinner, but ended up turning them all down. Spending the evening watching holiday movies felt like bliss to my ravaged soul.

If Christmas is hard, you’re not alone

As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered how many people share my trepidation over the holiday season.

So many of us struggle through December, putting our needs aside and catering to others.

Or perhaps we are sad because of separation from a loved one. Or a recent loss that makes celebration seem impossible.

I’ve decided to partner with some of these fellow sojourners to bring you a series called “When Christmas is Hard.”

Exactly as it sounds, various bloggers will share their unique experiences that make Christmas a difficult season for them. I hope you’ll stay tuned.

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