On your own Christmas Day
Even if your family situation is different to others, it doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate all that’s positive about your life. Do what you want to do – buy yourself the presents you want, watch films and, eat your favourite food.
Or maybe… Your family is just plain dysfunctional and it is too unhealthy for you to be around them right now.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much self-development work you have done – it is easy to get hooked into old patterns and ways of being. Martha Beck writes, “There’s nothing in the world as sticky as a dysfunctional family. You can put half your life’s savings into therapy—good therapy, effective therapy—and, 15 minutes into a holiday reunion, you still become hopelessly enmeshed in the same old crazy dynamics. Your assertiveness training goes out the window and a mere sigh from your grandmother triggers an attack of codependency so severe you end up giving her your house.”
I love the ideas in 5 Ways to Survive Your Next Family Gathering and would of course recommend giving them a go – especially if you have a tendency to push others away and/or isolate yourself. But sometimes, the only way to take care of yourself is to ditch the self-inflicted guilt and say no! So what to do on Christmas Day if you don’t have family, don’t want to spend it with family or if you want to avoid Christmas altogether?
It can be very tempting to reach out and try to reconnect with your family over the Christmas period. However, it’s crucial that you think very carefully. Is Christmas really the best time? Is reconciliation something you would want for the other months of the year? Do you think the people in question will be in the right frame of mind to talk to you rationally about your family issues at Christmas?
Successful reconciliation needs both people to be willing to show great empathy. If this is something you are working towards, sending a Christmas card or gift is a good first move. Turning up when someone isn’t expecting you might not give you the results you desire. Although it’s a brave move to try and make peace at Christmas, it could potentially harm your emotional wellbeing if it doesn’t go to plan.
If you’re determined with this course of action, talk to a friend before you do anything. Try to explain why you want to reconcile at this time of year in particular. If you still want to go ahead, try and call ahead and find out how you will be received.
Always put your own emotional and physical wellbeing first.
Remember that not everyone is spending Christmas with their family, and many people in the UK don’t celebrate the festival at all. It may be a hard few days, but you can get through it and you aren’t alone.