The fact that Christmas originally really had nothing to do with family, love and being together in harmony might shock you. In fact, I was quite surprised to read that it apparently originated in what the Roman pagans first introduced as a weeklong period of lawlessness, the holiday of Saturnalia. In the week from 17 until 25 December, Roman courts were closed and no one could be punished for injuring people or damaging property. Imagine that!
According to the ancient Greek writer, poet and historian Lucian the festival included intoxication, going from house to house singing naked, sexual frivolities and even human sacrifice. He also mentioned the consummation of human-shaped biscuits.
Nowadays, most people in the Western world will deal with eating and drinking too much, keeping their family tradition-loving and harmonious and unpacking presents bought in the pre-Christmas frenzy but luckily we do not have to fear being sacrificed. In the light of today’s challenges, let’s have a look at how to ‘survive’ Christmas:
Tip 1: When Christmas is ‘just too much’
Think about what it is that you need and what you do not want to be a part of. Be honest and communicate it clearly. If, for example, you do not want to take part in the Christmas present frenzy say so, preferably ahead of time. Suggest an alternative like donating money to a charity.
Tip 2: When you are alone
If you are alone and prefer not to be: check out the local community and whether they offer something that might interest you. Talk to friends and mention you’re feeling alone. Ask to be invited or invite some friends to your house. There are other people who are alone and do not want to be, like ex-pats or people in homes. Why not invite them or volunteer somewhere?
If you are alone and prefer it that way: make sure to plan something that you like. Maybe it is watching a movie, reading a book or… (Fill in your own activity).
Tip 3: When you just want to get away from it all
Why not plan a holiday? Or go away for the day? Find an activity that you like and that is open on Christmas, for example, skiing. If you stay at a hotel you will surely be around people but you can choose whether you want to communicate or stay to yourself.
Tip 4: It’s a lot of work
Delegate. Make a list of all the things that need to be done and ask for help. Even though it might have been tradition that you cook the roast, serve the sumptuous meal and clean up after everyone we do live in the 21st century and people do help each other. Traditions can evolve.
Tip 5: I miss them…
Given all the (pretend?) happiness and joyfulness people who are no longer with us, whether they are dead or have left, can be missed more strongly. Remember that you are allowed to feel sad but also know when you have to pull yourself out of feeling miserable. Preplan what you can do, if you need to cheer yourself up.