Christmas season is finally upon us, decorations are going up, Christmas music is on the radio and in the shops. TV and social media is full of pictures of gifts, food, decorations and so on and we continuously see images and adverts of families gathering together to celebrate together with plenty of food and presents. Unfortunately, Christmas is not a season of happiness and good will for all men and women. For many people, Christmas is a scary, lonely and painful time of the year that many look upon with dread. This time of the year exposes people that are on their own, poor or are just down and out on thier luck. It is more obvious at this time of the year to them and perhaps, others that they are not surrounded by family or friends, or cannot afford expensive or any any presents or do not have a place or anyone to spend this time of the year with.
The over-commercialisation of Christmas has worsened year upon year and shows no signs of slowing down. Every year, the bid for our money starts earlier and earlier, I started seeing Christmas goods in the shops as early as September!. We patiently wait for Ads from all the big retailers showing us their version of the Christmas message they want to sell to us, all in a bid to make us spend our hard-earned cash in their stores. What many of us don’t realise is how easily we get drawn into this. Even if we don’t normally celebrate Christmas or are not Christians, we still go along with it. Many people spend ridiculous amounts of money buying gifts and end up in debt after its all over. It is also a shame that companies seem to exploit this by trying to compete with each other by snagging the best celebrities to star in their Christmas ads. Walkers reportedly paid Mariah Carey, one of the worlds famous and richest female singers, £9million pounds to star in their Christmas ad. Yet at the same time, we are bombarded with emails and letters from charities reminding us of how vulnerable people are at this time of the year and seeking donations to help shelter and feed people at this time of the year.
I for one am slightly miffed at the way Christmas, a Christian holiday has been hijacked by so many non-believers. I don’t think there is any other religious holiday that has been so shamelessly taken over like Christmas has. As a Christian I feel very protective of Christmas having a reason and not a reason that has anything to do with buying of more stuff we don’t need. However, that is something probably worthy of another separate blog.
Coming back to sensitives around this season, we need to spare a thought for the people who struggle with this season and be more considerate and aware of those around us. There are people for whom this time of year may brings back terrible memories. Perhaps they lost a loved one or a marriage broke up around this time of the year, or for some people, this time of the year just highlights how alone they are and for those people they may dread the loneliness and isolation. With so many days off work, school and normal routines, people that are on their own can be literally trapped at home with nothing to do and no one to spend time with. It doesnt help that all around are images of families getting together, sharing a meal and presents and this therefore puts more pressure on those not doing these things, it may leave them feeling that they are the only ones without families or friend to share time with at Christmas.
There are people who are struggling to make ends meet and are worrying about how they will be able to buy presents for their children, for them, this period becomes a time of stress and worry. Family feuds and arguments abound at this time of the year, people you don’t see regularly and perhaps do not get along with are suddenly thrust upon you for a long period of time and it can become too much for even the most patient of people, in addition arguments over money and how to spend it and the unreasonably high expectation that people have for a perfect Christmas puts even more strain on the gentlest of people. Relationships can become hugely strained and a lot of marriages and relationships can crumble around this time of the year too. This is also the reason January is one of the most likely months for divorce and separation. If you are already struggling in your relationship with your partner, being stuck with them for a long period of time and trying to pretend to be happy can put intolerable pressure on an already fragile relationship.
So, what can we do to make a difference? Well, you can try to be a bit more generous and thoughtful at this time of the year. I am amazed and how unkind and bad-tempered people get in the shops and supermarkets at this time of the year. The stresses of trying to create a perfect Christmas is a challenging one even with the best will in the world. Perhaps we can shift our focus just a slight bit outward and think of those who have less than we do?
You can invite a lonely person or someone you know doesn’t have family around to share Christmas lunch with you, you could volunteer at a shelter, support homeless charities who do so much more at this time like Shelter and Crisis.
At the end of the day, it is just about being a bit more thoughtful and sharing more kindness and if we can’t do that at this time of the year, supposedly the season of goodwill then when can we do it?
Tayo Kuti is a writer, blogger, content creator and social media executive. You can get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org�I�p���