My Mum is really struggling in the lead up to Christmas.
We haven’t spent Christmas day together for many years but in the lead up to it we always got together. He gave the most thoughtful presents to his great grandchildren; they always loved them more than anything I ever bought them.
And growing up, we spent every Christmas day at my grandparents’ house. The connection is strong.
I know so many people feeling the same way as my mum, contemplating an empty seat around the Christmas table either literally or figuratively.
My friend also lost her dad. I have another friend who lost her brother. I know women who have lost their husbands and kids who have lost parents this year.
Friends have died. It’s the weight of melancholy wrapped around gut-wrenching grief, an emptiness, a space. All while the rest of the world seems to be merrily ho ho ho-ing their faces off.
But are they really?
I think Christmas is a bit like birthdays in that it amplifies where you are in your life. You can’t hide from anything at Christmas. If there are fractures in your relationship or your mental health, if there is grief in your heart or tension with relatives, Christmas shines a big dirty light on it. No filter.
I truly question whether anyone but children (children who are fortunate to be in loving, safe homes) enjoy Christmas, really enjoy it I mean.
It’s like New Year’s Eve. So much unrealistic expectation. So much pressure to have a great time but what’s great about it really? Women bear the brunt of Christmas in every sense. We buy the presents for kids, for teachers, for relatives that aren’t even our own. We organise the catch-ups. We make the Santa magic. We navigate the family politics and the extended family politics and the politics of deciding where to be on Christmas day and with whom.