[Mental Health] Being a Grinch at Christmas

It’s not even December yet and I’ve already expressed my displeasure multiple times that Christmas is coming. I have no qualms in telling everyone that I hate Christmas and I must seem like the biggest Grinch going. I’m going to tell you all a secret though, I don’t hate Christmas, but I don’t feel like I have a place out in the world when it comes to Christmas and not embracing Christmas makes it easier to hide that truth. 

It would be easy to say this all started after my Mum passed away, and yes that probably amplified my feelings, but to be honest, Christmas has always felt complicated for me. There was always something going on that unsettled the joy and excitement of Christmas and I never quite understood the people who saw it as a time to be endlessly happy and full of excitement over the seasonal period. 

When my marriage ended, we had to deal with what would happen with our little boy at Christmas. Without fail he spends the majority of Christmas Day with his Dad, especially now because his step-brother is only a year older and they have the whole family fun thing going on. I think those experiences are going to make him love Christmas as he grows and I want that for him. I also make sure he knows that we will do our own thing, usually on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day and I get him involved and I make an effort to make our alternative Christmas awesome for him. 

This means I have to entertain myself on Christmas Day and initially my desire to this alone was a bit of bravado mixed in with that overwhelming feeling of not belonging anywhere. Going it alone that first year, wasn’t easy, but it was easier than the year before where my ex and I spent it together with our son, despite being separated, that was awkward, painful and did nobody any good. 

The last few years I have seen Bakji on Christmas Day evening, so it’s only been the daytime part I’ve had to entertain myself and I think it was the second Christmas Day I did just me that I finally got the hang of it and began to enjoy my new efforts to get through the Christmas period. What did I do that day? I watched Harry Potter all day and made myself salmon for dinner. It was amazing. 

The following year, I got caught in a trap. A trap that found me eating dinner with other people. It was not fun! The dinner was delicious because it was cooked my Dad whose 50-year career as a chef has left him with some awesomely tasty skills under his belt. The other guests were predominantly his girlfriend’s family though and while well-meaning people in the grand scheme of things, alcohol is not their friend though and the conversation all over dinner was obnoxious, intrusive and it honestly made me wish I’d been home alone. 

The following year I decided no more people, just me Netflix and some yummy dinner. I spent that Christmas binge-watching Mindhunter and I realised then, that actually the best thing I could do for myself over Christmas is exactly what I want.

The hardest part of spending any portion of Christmas on my own isn’t how it makes me feel. It’s how it makes other people feel. People I’ve never even been for coffee with have invited me to their house on Christmas, seeming to think being with anyone is better than being on your own doing something you enjoy. That is the second reason I started telling people I hate Christmas, because if you don’t like it then it fine to be home alone ignoring it. 

The truth is though I do like Christmas, I love baby Jesus, I love Christmas lights and candles, I love my Christmas tree (it’s a pop up one that everyone laughs at, but I think it’s great) and most of all I’ve started to love indulging in those things by myself. It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t think I fit in anywhere else at Christmas, but maybe that doesn’t need to be a fact that makes me or anyone else sad. 

This year we are getting a Nintendo Switch for Christmas and honestly, my big plan was to get myself a great game and just spend all day playing, I’m not a hardcore gamer, by any stretch of the imagination. But there are a few games here and there that capture my attention, the last one being Lego Harry Potter when I was pregnant, just to give you an idea of my gaming level. 

However, as I am learning a lot lately, life seems keen to direct me in new directions right now and there may be another option for me, that will involve people and if it is an offer that is extended to me I will take it! It may not become my new tradition and hell, I may not even enjoy it, but I am willing to give it a go. Worst case scenario I get bored, make my excuses and head back home to Nintendo it up!

Christmas isn’t the easiest of times for me, it does get easier though, and gets better every year, the less I try and view it and experience it in a way other people expect me too. Also not being tied to plans with family or yearly traditions that I can’t get out of means that I am open to new possibilities with every Christmas that comes around and as I’ve reflected on a lot lately, life is full of surprises. Who knows, one of these days Christmas might just be the thing that surprises me. 

Until then though I am planning my solo festivities, eating some good food, looking forward to not sharing my sweets and generally planning on being incredibly self-indulgent and to be honest, part of me really cannot wait. 

9 thoughts on “[Mental Health] Being a Grinch at Christmas

  1. It’s a funny thing that so many people can’t understand that being alone has nothing to do with being lonely. This can be truly annoying around Christmas time.

    The way you’ve worked out how to divide your time around Christmas sounds well balanced between what you need on Christmas Day itself and then providing your very personal and special time with your son.

    Forced enjoyment destroys the holiday for so many people. Doing your own thing that you can enjoy is priceless

  2. My daughter’s birthday is on Christmas, and as I share her with her dad, I have her in the morning til noon then she is gone for the rest of the day. It’s really hard being away from family and people you love at Christmas, so I feel you there. Hopefully we’ll both have a good one!

  3. Totally understand i get lonely miss the family gatherings as family dynamics have changed.
    so i wish You a Merry Day on Christmas.

  4. I am so with you on this. There was a time when I enjoyed Christmas, but I am just so done with all the obligatory stuff, and this is the first year where it seems there will be none of that. Bliss!

    Rebel xox

  5. My man and I don’t “Do” Xmas, in fact it is our tradition to have Spag Bol for dinner. I began to hate the festivities when my kids were young and had to be passed around each year – and can’t stand the commercial aspect of it x

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