real life

There's a forgotten Christmas tradition we all experience, but never talk about.

We need to talk about Christmas.

While the mere thought of the festive season might fill some of you with holly-jolly joy, for others, things aren’t so merry around the Christmas period.

For every person who can’t wait to put up their Christmas tree, eat until they burst, and of course, rip into all of those exciting presents, there is another person who is quietly, secretly dreading the festive season.

Sad Christmas
Not everyone looks forward to everything about Christmas. Image via iStock.

Even if it's just a tiny little bit.

Don't get me wrong: I love Christmas. I love the family and the friends and the sun and the wine and everything else that comes with it.

But when I look around the table on Christmas Day, it's impossible not to be reminded of the people who should be there, but aren't.

I'm always reminded of the family members we've lost along the way, and whose presence we always miss that little bit more during this time of year.

Grief and loss has become an inevitable part of my family's Christmas Day; somewhere between eating pudding with custard, and stealing a piece of bread to munch on in place of dinner, there are inevitably tears and even tantrums.

average christmas present spend
There are bound to be tears at every Christmas in my family. Image via iStock.

As the wine flows, photo albums are pulled from dusty shelves and the same stories that have been told at nearly every family gathering are recounted once again.

Sentences begin with "remember when?" and "what if?", and unsurprisingly, that always leads to someone shedding tears over lost family members.

Then, inevitably, there will be arguments about who drank all the wine, or people accusing other guests of 'being too drunk'. It's not a pretty sight.

But soon, things are back to 'normal' and the merry spirit continues. That's usually when the family sing-a-longs begin...

Maybe this isn't exactly how your Christmas goes. Maybe all the seats at your Christmas table are filled and there are guaranteed to be no tears.

But maybe, just maybe, Aunt Betty will always get into an argument with Uncle Dean.

Or maybe Cousin Cheryl will always, ALWAYS drink too much champagne and end up screaming about the fact that someone took too many prawns and didn't leave her with enough for her plate.

Some people dread Christmas before it's even really begun.

Maybe Grandma will always sigh quietly in the corner at the end of the night because the stress of preparing endless trays of Christmas pies and cookies for everyone is just a little too much to bear sometimes.

No matter what situation you relate to, I think every family has their own 'unspoken' Christmas tradition.

We're happy to share the jolly goings-on of our family get-togethers with our friends (and on Instagram), but despite the fact we are all in the same boat, we aren't talking about those less-than-happy things that happen, without fail, every time Christmas rolls around.

We're not discussing those yearly arguments and tantrums. We're not raising the annual tearful flip through old family photos to remember those we've lost.

Getting the family together can be difficult. It can be stressful. It can be sad.

But perhaps, if we open up a little more and acknowledge that not every Christmas memory is a happy one, and accept that having a little cry is as much a part of the big family lunch as popping a Christmas cracker, we can all feel a little bit better.

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