Christmas stories

……of Christmas past and present

Christmas 2012 – both Christmas Day and Boxing Day them self were stress free, it’s the build up to them that seemed stressful, regardless of how little importance I’ve attached to them over the years, somehow the thought that shops will be shut for two whole days, fills many people, including myself,with panic and by the look on their faces, desperation. One of our comments feedback for an earlier post about general stress, referred to the possibility that some Xmas stress results from feeling  that our gift giving may not have much monetary value compared to those we receive.

For me the convenience of local corner shops and petrol station , although offering only limited food stuffs, at greater expense than the supermarkets, are so convenient. I don’t resent the extra few pennies because they truly deliver a service, I’ve known the shop owners and the take-a-way owners for the 20 plus years I’ve lived in the neighbourhood. This Xmas Day, one was open 8.30.a.m. ,both all day Boxing Day together with the take-a ways, no need to starve, for myself I’m happy to forgo the traditional roast meals until the the bigger shops are open again, or easier still, as I probably will,  have it out! at non Christmas prices. If you have limited time off because of work commitments, feelings of obligation to entertain or be part of other people’s festivities, the pressure is on……of course some find the tradition pleasurable.

I found both days very relaxing and enjoyable, having refused  invites for dinner and wanting to be at home, with flexibility about whether people popped in or shared simple non traditional food. No definite plans were made until the day, the people who came and I, shared a little more of our personal stories, discussed our experience with mental distress and what might contribute to maintaining our well being iin the year to come, there were more philosophical discussions about the complexity of intimate relationships…….as Pa Larkin, ‘Darling buds of May’ and a new found friend frequently says, …perfect! ….yes it was a perfect Christmas….but I still feel a sense of relief that it’s over, possibly that is something to do with my ‘Christmas past’

Boxing Day 1958


looking as if enjoying the festivities, the photograph hides the reality of  troubled lives, two,were affected seriously by mental and emotional distress and the little girl………. went on to be similarly affected, albeit well into mid life, then I could truly sympathise with my brother and mothers experience.I do not hold with the theory,particularly prominent at the time that mental illness ‘ran in families’ …genetic. I have always railed against that idea, I don’t claim to have a clear alternative opinion of the causes or solutions.

Lily P

8 thoughts on “Christmas stories

  1. Thanks for your moving and interesting post Lily.
    I understand what you mean about the run up to Christmas being more stressful than the actual event, there seems to be something in the air, which is hard to avoid ! Having said that – it’s nice that you were able to have Christmas the way you wanted it, simple and without obligations.
    I find the photograph of 1958 with the words accompanying it very moving and insightful. I disagree with the saying ‘the camera never lies’ – often photographs hide reality and in this digital age it’s often been commented that Facebook can give the illusion that everyone is living an amazingly happy life and that it is one big party! When in reality many people have problems fo some sort.
    Yes, I wonder about the ‘genetic’ claim when it seems numerous family members have suffered with mental ill-health. Nature or Circumstances/Environment – I was going to say nurture but it didn’t seem to cover it!
    Thanks for sharing


    • I appreciate your thoughtful comments, it’s true social media can be deceptive about the reality of people’s lives, I think having large numbers of FB ‘friends’
      can not foster true sharing of our day to day experience, the ‘closed’ group based on a common interest and an existing personal ‘bond’ has a more intimate and purposeful feel,I’ve found it helpful, thank you for setting it up and administering it.


  2. Thanks for this post – I’m glad you had a good Christmas, and your experience seems to support something I’ve thought about it – that you somehow have to make it your own, and customise it to your own particular circumstances and needs. I began to enjoy Christmas about 20 years ago when it occurred to me it’s less about trying to live up to some external version of ‘a good Christmas’, drinking a lot, buying a lot etc, and more to do with appreciating the people in my life who mean a lot to me. It probably corresponded with my own children growing up and there being less pressure to provide for them. I do think it’s worst for parents – particularly women. There was a terrible ad this Christmas about a wonder woman mum who seemed to do everything and work like a slave for months while everyone else sat around and enjoyed. The implication was that this was what being a good mum looked like and if you didn’t come up to scratch you were somehow inferior. It was the Persil mum again! I think Christmas is about taking the bits that suit you and never minding the b******s!


    • Interesting viewpoint about making your own traditions at this time of year, it’s true women do often appear to carry a lot of the responsibility for upholding the traditions, perhaps because they listen to their heart rather than their head? I would mind if there were no …BrusselS….why did you blank the word out? …guess you don’t like them, try them al dente. An acquaintance of mine recently told me about an ancient tradition involving the Lord of Misrule who was a kind of fun guy master of ceremonies, that sounds well worth including in next years customised Christmas.

      Happy New Year! from Lily


  3. Hi, Yes the closed facebook group – with a small group of people and a common purpose has worked well. It;s been a nice arena to post ideas, thoughts, have fun, and it’s supportive and gentle. Makes you wonder if humans work better within small groups that exist within larger groups. (well I guess that may be obvious) But I think we have found that communites can be created and social media can help and it can works, if done in the right way.
    I also agree that customising christmas for your own particular needs is a great idea. I guess it does depend who else you have to consider. But this concept also strikes me as striving towards ‘living life the way you want to’ rather than going through the motions – this is something I have struggled with from time to time. I feel I am stepping more and more into this way of being – my hopes for this year is I do just that. Be myself, do things which make me happy. (Of course considering others!)
    It’s been a pleasure to be part of Leeds Wellbeingweb this year and I feel I’ve learned a lot from others, gained confidence in expressing myself in words and enjoyed the company. Thank you guys!


    • It is such a shame that these valuable comments and insights are seemingly shared by so few, looking forward to 2013, seeing how the blog develops it’s readership and improving the way feedback is displayed. It think it is vital people have the confidence to be true to them self.


  4. Thank you to all those who have shared above. I’m back at work today and regretting the very swift passing of lovely time with family and friends. It was chaotic in the run up and I think I probably passed all previous records in lack of organisation but it was lovely just to be at home and have unscheduled time to do family things together (and to catch up on some sleep and read lots). On the subject of the number of people seeing this site, we do need to do more with it and promote it better. I hope we can get together and work out next steps soon. Best wishes to all, Niccola


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