Have yourself a realistic little Christmas

beth ashley writer journalist have yourself a realistic little christmas / image of blue-haired girl wearing a brown fluffy coat in front of a christmas tree
photo taken by lily napier

It’s no secret that expectations are high at Christmas – too high. Every year we’re informed of the statistics. Of how 7.9 million people began 2018 in debt from Christmas. Of how on average, British people borrow at least £452 on credit cards this season – and of how death by suicide rates peak around Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year. But we often choose to just fa-la-la through December, speaking over these truths.

And I understand it. Ignorance is bliss and hearing this information at a time where we’re supposed to be jolly and wholesome is difficult. But unfortunately, it means we’re keeping the expectations of Christmas high in the sky, and not creating any change.

I remember the first time I was aware of my ‘difference’ at Christmas. I was in my first year of university, and it was November 1st. Which, of course, meant it was Capitalist Christmas. The real Christmas season is actually in December, if you weren’t aware. But high street stores and supermarkets need you to believe it’s much earlier.

~ definition ~

I’d walked through a very fairy light filled and tinsel-topped town, and arrived back at my student house, where I lived with twenty other people. If you’re someone who doesn’t like Christmas much, you’ll be all too familiar with the sound of Christmas festivities and excitement, and the pit in your stomach that witnessing it deepens.

The sound of the rush towards Christmas is always perceived as dizziness to me. Shoppers manically dragging jumpers down rails to find the perfect Christmas do outfit, carol singers flooding the streets singing, the planning of presents – it’s all presented to me in a blur of panic, making my palms sweat and my mind panic.

But the thing that unsettles me most about this time of year, is people asking me for my plans. I’m completely overwhelmed by the approach of Christmas because I’m suddenly all-too-aware of all the people in my life and their differences. There are people that might want to see me, but I don’t. There are people where the situation is reversed. There are multiple friends I’d love to see that can’t be in the same room together. It’s like planning a wedding every year, only no one gets married and there are more people to buy gifts for.

Every year, I’ve panicked about Christmas. The appearance of decorations and town lights launch my in-advance anxiety, and leave me over preparing for worry that isn’t warranted yet. But this year, I’m determined to get Christmassy.

Managing My Expectations

This year, I’m determined to get through Christmas. Not just survive it, but maybe even enjoy it. A huge part of disliking Christmas for me, has been the expectation. Come November time, I’m flooded with messages from family members and friends about where I’m going to spending the day, who I’ll be bringing, and what I want for gifts. Do I want to be part of Secret Santa? Do I want to come on a Pub Crawl? November and December are like two giant survey months for me, all just for one day of the year. It’s incredibly stressful. So, this year I’m going to be managing my expectations as much as possible, and if you struggle with Christmas too, I’d recommend doing the same.

I’ve started thinking of Christmas as if it’s someone else’s birthday. A day of significance, but without the pressure to perform or organise anything. Perhaps this is selfish but separating myself from as much of the Christmas admin and organisation as possible keeps me as calm as I need to be to face the season. Basically, if you want me to turn up to your Christmas do, you’re gonna have to not ask me to do anything. I’ll bring a bottle, but that’s about all I can muster.

Managing Other People’s

Putting My Mental Health First

photo by lily napier

Putting Me First

Finding the Enjoyment in Little Things

Coffee

Making presents

Christmas trees

Christmas chocolate

Not spending too much money

Time with the people who matter

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Beth Ashley
Beth Ashley

Writer/wronger. Provides words about mental health and feminism and runs this very blog. Copywriter for Godaddy and editor of Paperfox Literary Magazine.

Find me on: Web | Instagram

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