We all celebrate Christmas in different ways or maybe not at all. Christmas might not be a celebration for everyone from a cultural point of view. And even for people who do observe Christmas, there are as many traditions as there are families and individuals. But it may be a time of year that is hard, bringing up challenging feelings. Or it could simply be a time we might not feel like celebrating. In a country where we have wall-to-wall Christmas from September (or even earlier) every year, this can be very tough. These weeks it seems you can’t open a magazine, or a newspaper, turn on a radio or TV without some ‘helpful’ article telling us the way to a perfect Christmas dinner, set of gifts or house and garden decorations.
This blanket coverage can affect us in different ways: it can make us feel that if we cook that sauce, or that turkey or goose, life will be perfect. It can add tension to finances and relationships. It can make us want to burrow deep under a duvet and wake up on January 1! And spare a thought for retail workers especially those for whom Christmas doesn’t mean much! Imagine Jingle Bells on a loop for 4 months!
Personally, I love Christmas, but there is no denying that it can bring pressures, both emotional and financial. Most people will have an ‘empty chair’ at Christmas, with memories of Christmas past and people who we love who are not with us this year. All those media articles can make us feel that Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without us parting with lots of Euros on this gadget or that garden decoration, ignoring the fact that it is the presence of people close to us who make the season bright or can make it very sad if they are absent.
Do what makes you happy
I was thinking about this at the weekend, and I suppose my opinion, for what it is worth, is ‘Do what makes you, and whoever you share these weeks with, happy’. If Christmas isn’t for you, for whatever reason, ignore it as best you can. If you don’t like turkey, don’t feel you have to buy it. The sun will rise on December 26 whether or not you have bread sauce or sprouts or matching wrapping paper on 25 December! If this season does not have a cultural significance for you, enjoy the breather from work!
Not everyone is celebrating
For those of you in Early Years and School Age Care settings this exciting, busy week… try to spare a thought for families, and indeed colleagues, for whom Christmas isn’t a celebration. Keep in mind that some children in your setting may be experiencing the loss of a family member. Be mindful of how they are feeling, and what is different this year for them. We should acknowledge that not all children might be happy and excited this Christmas. Santa may not bring what they most want this year.
After Christmas, try to find out what festivals or events families do mark and see how these can be celebrated. Bear in mind those who have a new ‘empty chair’ this year. And if this relates to you…go easy on yourself. Have a weep in remembrance, take out the happy memories and treasure them. If you have family members who can’t get home this year, plan the Zoom or Facetime and raise a virtual glass together – technologically, if not in reality.
The team at Scéalta and Early Childhood Ireland have enjoyed this year, with many excellent contributions from so many interesting and thought-provoking people. We are proud to support creative, resilient and caring educators in our sector. And we look forward to even more great Scéalta posts in 2023. We hope that you have a lovely, restful Christmas season, whatever you do over the next week or so. See you all back in January!