Christmas is not always the happiest time of year.
For most of us, Christmas means lots of good things ” spending time with family and friends, presents, parties, food and fun.
But for some people, Christmas is a difficult and sad time of year. There are many reasons for this. For some, money worries make the holiday season a time to dread. The cost of presents and food and the pressures of expectation can cause anxiety and stress.
For others, the loss of a loved one or being away from family can cause loneliness and increased feelings of grief and isolation.
Divorce, separation and the introduction of a new step-family can also make Christmas a stressful and unhappy time. Deciding who to spend the day with, as well as unresolved anger or resentment can cause fights, tears and sadness.
But there are things you can do to make Christmas easier on you or your family.
- If you’ve got money problems, try to budget ahead so you don’t get overwhelmed by expenses. Suggest alternatives to giving gifts, or arrange it so that each person only has to contribute one gift. Consider simpler alternatives to a big slap-up feast ” perhaps a barbecue where people can all bring a plate.
- For those separated from family at Christmas, make sure you keep in touch by phone, mail and email. Make plans for your Christmas Day ” why not volunteer for charity work with an organisation like the Salvation Army, or attend a local community event.
- If your family has recently experienced divorce, or a new step-family has come into your life, Christmas can be hard. Try to consider everyone’s feelings ” sharing your thoughts and concerns is a great way to get closer. There is always the option of staggering Christmas celebrations, so that kids can spend one day with one parent and one day with the other. Also, avoid overindulging in alcohol ” this can cause arguments.
- When a loved one has been lost, especially if it’s a family member, Christmas can be a difficult time of year. But ignoring the day altogether can just make you feel worse. Talk to your family about their feelings, and consider doing something different to avoid painful memories, such as having Christmas dinner at a restaurant instead of at home. Use the time together to share fond memories of the person that you’ve lost, and don’t feel guilty if you’re having a good time.
Remember that help is always there is you need it. Lifeline offers 24 hour telephone counselling services. Call them on 131 114 or head to www.lifeline.org.au Kids Help Line is also a 24 hour service. Their number is 1800 55 1800 or you can find them online at www.kidshelp.com.au