6 reasons why some people dread the festive season
For many people, December is a joy-filled time which we anticipate with enthusiasm. However, for too many people it’s a time which they dread and worry about for weeks in advance. Here are six reasons why some people may be apprehensive about the lead-up to the festive season.
1. We won’t be spending it with loved ones
It's not guaranteed that we all have family or friends to spend Christmas with. At this time of year, some of us feel quite lonely, even when we are around other people.
Are you coming to terms with the death of a loved one? Has your adult child moved abroad? Did you recently separate or get divorced? Will your adult child spend Christmas in the home of their spouse’s family? Have you fallen out with a sibling, child or friend?
What makes it all the worse is that everyone on television, at work or in your community seems to be excited about spending the festive season with the people they love. Why does everyone else seem to have a perfect family life at this time of year?
Your colleagues or neighbours will inevitably ask you how you plan to spend Christmas Day and you can’t bear to give them an honest reply.
2. We are worried about the expense
Prices have gone up. With the cost of living crisis going on, we cannot all provide the gifts and treats that are normally associated with the season. Some people have been made redundant, and many have used up any savings they once had. Too many people are struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table, let alone manage the expenses associated with Christmas.
How will you respond when people give you gifts when you cannot afford anything to give back? What will you do when your young children are expecting presents like their friends are receiving? Can you afford a new outfit or a round of drinks at the Christmas work party?
3. We feel obligated to spend Christmas with people we don’t like
Maybe you feel obliged to go to your sibling’s house, a work do or your in-laws’ celebration, but you’re dreading it. Was your experience last year quite miserable? Do you always compromise or relent and spend the day with people you don’t like?
Perhaps you are going to spend the festive season with friends or family who tease, undermine or bully you, but you feel like you must show your face. Maybe you always spend Christmas with your family, but secretly you daydream about spending it alone on a tropical beach, or with your new partner in a cosy, rural cottage. Who gets to make the decision about how you will spend your Christmas and who you will spend it with?
4. There is always drama
Are you dreading what will happen at Christmas because of your past experiences? Perhaps one member of your family always brings up the topic of politics, which inevitably leads to tension. Maybe another tends to drink too much. Is someone known for throwing a tantrum or do your children argue over everything? Are you bound to row with your partner or adult sibling? Or will you have to bite your tongue whilst chaos unfolds around you and you desperately try to hold it all together?
5. Differing expectations
Sometimes, we have certain expectations about how the festive period will pan out. That can be fine if you are all in agreement, can afford it and have good communication around it. But it can feel awful if, for example, all the hard work is left to you and no one else helps out. Perhaps other people don’t even seem grateful for all the months of hard work you have put into making Christmas so special.
Christmas is a time which causes us to remember our own childhood traditions. So perhaps we have certain expectations of how to celebrate the day, which are at odds with other people’s. Maybe you like to open your gifts before breakfast on Christmas morning, but your spouse says they cannot be touched until after lunch. It could be that your parents always want roast turkey, but you find it unpalatable. Perhaps you like listening to the King’s speech, but no one else in the family takes it seriously. Maybe you like to go to the pub, but others turn their noses up at the idea. Perhaps you want a limit on the amount of gifts given to your children, but their grandparents spoil them with piles of presents anyway. Do you feel you have to hide how you really feel?
It can also be difficult if different people want competing things and somehow expect you to make it all work for them. Are you the one stuck in the middle?
With expectations so high, this can be a really tricky time of year.
6. You have trouble setting boundaries
If you are one of those people who likes to please others, Christmas can be a particularly difficult time of year. Why do so many of us attend work parties which, quite frankly, make us miserable? We can worry for months about what to wear, how much to drink, what to buy for and what others will give us for ‘Secret Santa’, what to say to our boss and how to respond when a colleague we don't get on with approaches for a dance. We go because we think we have to, but is that really true?
Do you give away too much time, money and energy to make your friends and family happy at Christmas? Is this because you have trouble saying, “No”? Does this go on year in, year out, because you don’t know how to stand up for your needs and wants? Perhaps you put yourself at the bottom of the list of priorities and then find you can’t make people happy, tend to experience resentfulness and end up feeling burned out.
The good news is that it's not a given that you will have a sad or bad Christmas. There is still time to plan and change things around. Make this the year when you take back control, get support and create the kind of festive season that you want and deserve.
I have created a six-week online coaching package that will prepare you for the festive season. It will mean that you can start putting things in place now for a positive lead-up to Christmas and for the day itself. Through effective coaching, you will notice unexpected shifts in your perspective, new options, solutions and practical ways forward to a happier festive season. Meet me online, one-on-one, for an hour a week, and let us turn things around for you.