Finding resilience – this Christmas

Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year… A time of coming together, sharing food with family and friends, twinkling lights, candles, singing carols…a time of joy. For many, however, the reality is… a time of dread, one of the most challenging times of the year. With Covid, this Christmas is going to be different for a great many of us.

Generally speaking, at Christmas grief can be magnified, as can loneliness. Family gatherings can be a painful reminder of loss especially if it is the first anniversary of a loved one passing. Invitations from well-meaning friends can leave us not knowing what to do. There can be guilt around being happy again. Sharing a few laughs with friends doesn’t, however, mean we don’t miss our loved one.

People estranged from family can be reminded of fractured relationships. It can be a time when we feel isolated and vulnerable. For those who have just separated or divorced, it can bring up feelings of pain, anger, resentment, jealousy. Thought needs to be given as to how to share celebrations so children can have time with both parents… and grandparents. If you feel a need to put on a brave face, it’s important to allow time alone to honour all of your feelings.

One of the reasons Christmas can be so stressful is simply the unrealistic expectation we have of everyone coming together and being happy, of everything being perfect. We need to be realistic – if family members normally fight, they will probably fight on Christmas day too. Old issues can bubble up easily – especially when we drink bubbles!

With Covid this year, many of us will not celebrating in the traditional way what with restrictions on travel and the ability to gather as we normally do – and we may feel down. Some of us will have experienced loss during the year… the loss of loved ones who passed as a result of the virus, loss of our financial security, of jobs. The opportunity is to accept and adapt.

Christmas does offer us a time to reflect on what matters to us. Love, sharing and the Christmas spirit bring joy. We can be creative in celebrating in different ways, and focus on how we want to be – accepting, compassionate, joyful. Let’s not allow the virus to limit our celebration! There is beauty even in the midst of pain, we can choose to see it, to create it … or not.

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