It’s suicide season again. Contrived images of impossibly happy families are shoved down our throats in films, TV, advertising. At every opportunity we’re pushed to spend money on things we and our loved ones are unlikely to want or need.
The waste at this time of year is such a disgrace. I can’t stand it when people buy gifts for the sake of buying something. They don’t consider whether it is something useful or meaningful. Inevitably, that means so much ends up hanging around for a while and then being dumped in landfill.
I love this William Morris quote:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
This year I’ve made a big effort to live more in tune with what Morris said. I’ve given away or sold probably 75% of what I owned. It feels great to have less clutter in my life. To only keep things I need or have an emotional connection with. So I drilled into my family that I do not want them buying me things unless they know I need them. Maybe I am getting old, but I’m OK with receiving nothing these days.
I’ve found all the parties tough this year. Being sober is a big part of that, I can’t soothe my social anxiety with a few glasses of wine anymore. A lot of my friends are big drinkers, so that makes me feel awkward. I feel like I stand out in my sobriety, and I get so worked up I find it hard to have any fun.
Aside from that, I just don’t feel like celebrating. I know a lot of other people must get that too, but it makes me feel even more miserable if I see everyone around me partying and full of festive cheer. And the family stuff, that just makes everything worse.
Watching all the happy families on TV, hearing about friends and colleagues getting together with their nearest and dearest for Christmas is hard. My family is a mess right now and that is for the most part down to me. They are all hurting and they’re having trouble even speaking to one another. So every time I see a family laughing together on TV it reminds me of how broken my own family is.
In spite of it being a horrible time of year for anyone who’s struggling, there are things I love about Christmas. The tacky lights, the food, the tinsel, the story of Father Christmas, the reminder that we should all be kind to one another. I do love giving gifts, especially when they are home-made and I know the recipient will appreciate them.
This year I’ve escaped. You might have guessed from the photo I’m having a white Christmas in Canada. It is about -15 here, everything looks wintry and magical. Although I’m finding it challenging being away from my familiar comforts; my home, my dog (yeah I know that’s sad) and my therapist, I am doing my best to be present. To take in the fresh mountain air and be thankful, even if it is just for this brief moment.