Every year I put off writing this post.
Out of fear and embarrassment I put off sharing how I truly feel at this time of the year. I worry that people will feel sorry for me and pity me (which is not what I want, nor need). I feel embarrassed that as the year comes to an end I still haven’t achieved all that I set out to do and that year after year I’m still stuck. And I worry people will judge my family.
As Christmas approaches the usual anxiety kicks in and the inner turmoil begins. Year round I’m not really a shopping person and I avoid buying things unless I really have to. Our income generally goes on bills, food, petrol and the occasional coffee shop trip and little family days out that often don’t cost a lot.
November comes around and suddenly Christmas shopping is the topic of conversation with questions such as what am I getting the girls for Christmas? I have a four month old and two year old and maybe because of our financial position I don’t really think too in-depth about their presents or planning out time to buy things for them. At a push right now all I can think of is a Teletubby for my toddler(as grandma lost Dipsy a few weeks ago) and perhaps some nice sleepsuits for the baby as she’s a chunky monkey and growing much quicker than her sister did at this age.
As I write this I find myself welling up with tears because perhaps I’m not good enough that I can’t buy them more. (This is where the inner turmoil kicks in) I know my girls are happy and I know if I get quiet with myself and ask myself am I truly happy the answer would be yes and to buy a bunch of gifts would only be to make myself feel better as I generally feel my daughters are too young to understand Christmas Day and the fact Santa is meant to bring lots of presents. I know this isn’t the case for some people who have older kids that are fully aware of Christmas so I can’t imagine how they would feel in this situation as the pressure is likely greater.
We are often told presents don’t matter and Christmas is all about family yet we frantically write lists and get stressed about whether we have bought all our family a gift. We feel guilty if someone buys for us yet we haven’t bought for them so rush out last minute to buy a Boots box set or some other gift that fits within budget that the person is likely going to store away in the cupboard and re-gift next year all so we can feel that little bit better about ourselves.
We find out from others what their kids are getting for Christmas so we can make sure our kids our up to date with the latest toys. We wrap a billion presents, presenting them nicely under the tree for the token Facebook photo captioning ‘Can’t wait to see their face in the morning’ and eagerly anticipate their little smiles as they wake in the early hours wondering if Santa has been.
And then we wait, we wait to see if they are happy with their toys that they have been blessed with and that we worked so hard to provide.
I know not everyone can relate with this as many are likely in a wonderful financial position from working extremely hard and sacrificing a lot for their children. I took the opposite route and decided to be a stay at home mum sacrificing a salary but I like to think I still work hard but the rewards are slightly different.
The reason I am sharing this is the same reason I share most of my blogs – because someone out there will be in the same situation if not worse and will be feeling alone and terrible as a parent that they can’t shower their loved ones with gifts on Christmas Day (or if they do there is a heavy price to pay because credit cards and loans will be taken out).
I don’t believe I am the only one in this situation and I don’t believe I’m the only one who has anxiety when someone asks me about how my Christmas shopping is going? Or anxiety when they see all the Christmas stuff hit the shelves and have to turn the other cheek.
I know for some people they worked hard all year round just so their kids can have a fantastic Christmas and I believe that this quality is very admirable. I know for others that no matter how hard they work or how much they sacrifice they still struggle to make ends meet and feel like a failure as Christmas dawns.
Over the years I have really learnt that family is the most important thing about Christmas because for myself personally, I find more happiness knowing I can spend quality time with my loved ones. My husband is also fortunate to have annual leave over the holidays so I really embrace and cherish that time we have together.
I’m sharing my feelings around this to break the stigma that we should all have it together for Christmas Day. I’m sharing this blog to let others know you are not a failure and that happiness really does come from within.
I know it sounds so cliche and so many people may not be able to grasp this but I’m also sure that many people would trade their gifts in an instant if it meant having a loved one there, a loved one who has passed away or perhaps can’t be there for what ever reason.
We throw away the statement ‘moments not things’ but do we take time to really deeply embrace it or is it just another throw away quote we like to post on Instagram.
The comparison trap is a horrible one and I know it’s heightened at this time of the year. The thing is we all have the desire to create the best Christmas possible for our loved ones and what we miss is that we can do that just by being present.
We can do that by switching our phones off for the day and listening to one another opposed to scrolling Facebook and looking in on someone else’s Christmas Day . We can have a joyful Christmas spending time together, walking along the beach, sharing your favourite tipple, eating your favourite foods. Inviting neighbours and friends over, reaching out to someone where a relationship may have broken down. We can exchange a few gifts or two without going overboard and we can tell those close to us how much we love them. We can visit Santa, watch the Christmas lights being switched on, drink hot chocolate and watch Elf for the hundredth time and we can just be.
I will leave you with this that my husband always says. He comes from a culture where gifts are not important and time together is.
He says “Can you remember what you gifts you got for Christmas last year?”
And the answer is always no.
But can I remember the year that I have just had, the new addition in July, the fact my daughter now has a baby sister and all the memories we have created.
And that is what is important.
- Be blessed and have a great Christmas. Know that you are not a failure and your worth is not measured by how many gifts you can buy.