Christmas is the time of a year when we are all happily surrounded by family and friends, unwrapping dozens of presents with huge smiles on a faces whilst we step outside and play in the fresh white snow. Assuming you live in Hollywood that is where people are not sad and alone on Christmas Day and people are not disappointed in the lack of presents and listening to parents arguing over dinner or what to watch on the television.
Naturally the real world tells a different picture for someone like me who battles depression and Christmas time is one of the worst times of the year for me, I become sick with BahHumbugitis and count the days until it is over.
Having children and their expectations of gifts to be opened only increases the stress and anxiety of the period, no matter how hard you try to emphasis that Christmas is about family and friends as they get older you feel like you have the parental responsibility to ensure you can do everything in your power, and often beyond, to make sure they are not feeling disappointed. No matter how hard I try to explain to them about finances there is always a part of me that dies inside when I imagine them heading back to school after the holidays to hear from their friends about the shed loads of presents they received whilst my kids are lucky to get multiple presents let alone shed loads! The cruelty of kids these days, especially the “haves” over the “have nots” is an added pressure, and as parents you want to do everything you can for your children.
After all, the Christmas memories you give your children now will reflect their future Christmas emotions.
Growing up as a child every single Christmas guaranteed one thing for me and that was the annual fight between my parents which lead to us being late for dinner at my Nan’s home. Looking back now at my childhood this is THE standout memory of Christmas for me and another reason for me to dislike it.
Every year for the past 10 years I avoid walking into shops throughout December, avoiding the shops completely let alone the crowds of people rushing around to get food that will be thrown away because they bought too much while I decide whether its presents or food, not an easy choice with four kids ranging from 3 to 15!
The same Christmas songs on a permanent loop year after year, hearing Yoko Ono singing “war is over” one more time could just tip me over the edge, this do not make me full of the spirit of the festive season but makes me remember the disappointments of previous years where Christmas and disappointment fit like hand in glove.
But this year WILL be different, my youngest is 3 and a half and cannot wait for Santa to arrive with presents for her, we have overspent on presents to make sure the boys get spoilt for the first time and I am determined to embrace the spirit of Christmas and make this the best one ever! The kids wont be kids forever and I want them to look back at Christmas with fond memories and when they eventually have kids of their own to enjoy Christmas and not count the days until the tree can be taken down and shops top playing Christmas songs!
I am one of the lucky ones though! I have an amazing wife and four wonderful children, for others they have no one! No family or friends and will be spending Christmas alone making them extremely vulnerable. This is where the famed “spirit of Christmas” can make such a big difference to someone.
The power of a card or even a phone call to someone could really mean the difference between life and death. There is no feeling in the world worse than being alone at a time when we are bombarded with how important family is at this time of year, hiding away for me is not an option anymore. I intend to make the most of Christmas for the first time in my adult life and visit family rather than sending the wife and kids to grandparents and staying indoors on my own sleeping the day away!
I know people with no one at Christmas and I will spend my time checking in on them to make sure they are okay or at the very least letting them know I am thinking about them and available for a chat!
What will you be doing to help someone with depression at Christmas? Look around at your family and friends, the chances are you know someone who suffers and you could be the one to make Christmas for someone who year after year hides away because there is never anyone to be there for them! As a good friend of mine told me “‘you don’t have to be on the streets to be alone and friendless.”