Niamh Ennis: 'Christmas will be different this year. Let's focus on why that might be a good thing''

  • by IMAGE

We have eight weeks exactly left now until the big day. Let’s not make them eight long weeks of looking at what we will lose this year, writes Niamh Ennis

What have we got if we don’t have hope?

In recent months it is fair to say that hope feels in very short supply. Now that we are back in Level 5 lockdown we find ourselves afraid to imagine that we won’t get to celebrate Christmas this year. Even if we can, we know that whatever form it takes, it won’t be the same as last year.

It can’t. Which is true. Yet for so many people Christmas this year was always going to be different anyhow.


Missing someone special at the dinner table, wishing an argument hadn’t happened, a health issue hadn’t developed, a relationship hadn’t ended, a job hadn’t been taken away – so many things make each Christmas feel different.

Yet each year, we pick ourselves up and allow ourselves get caught up in the absolute magic of the time of year.

Almost in spite of ourselves, we let hope back in. We watch the sheer excitement on the faces of children, enchanted at the imminent arrival of the white-bearded man in the red suit. We join the thronging crowds and insufferably long queues to just select and but gifts we think our loved ones might need or, worded more accurately, that we want them to have.

We promise ourselves that we will hold our breath, and resist the urge to find refuge in the wine bottle, at the family gathering, when our sister in law tells us, for the umpteenth time, that the ‘weight suits you’ or our aunt insists on telling you, in front of everyone, that she admires your determination to stick with your ‘unusual little career’ before asking you to describe once again exactly what it is you do!

We reluctantly immerse ourselves in the pressure of needing to catch up with every single person, we had even the briefest encounter with, before ‘The Christmas’.

The office-work party or girls night out becomes the focal point upon which we obsess. It is our last chance in the year to earn our fashion stripes among what we know to be a tough crowd. Terrified that this might be the one this year we stand out, and not in a good way!

We become our very own Cindy doll as we ruminate not just on the outfit but the hair, make-up, bags, jewellery and shoes.


Can you see yourself in any of these scenarios?
Did you find yourself nodding along as we jumped here from one scenario to the next? If you did, then can you also see why I might be a little confused as to why having just one year off from all of this, might be something you should celebrate rather than commiserate over?

Now I’m not trying to be in any way flippant here. This year has been a really tough year for all of us. That we each at one time or another, have felt disconnected, isolated, worried, lonely, frustrated and tired.

I know I have.
I really miss my friends. I miss their hugs.
I miss the deep and lively conversations over dinner.
I miss that sense of connection.

But what I’m really trying to do here, is to assist you in reframing how we might and should look at this.
Instead of thinking about the downside to this Christmas being totally different, let’s ask ourselves what could happen if we started to see all of this as a good thing and tune into the positive thought that for one year only this Christmas IS going to feel very different.

Think about how this might feel for you… This year you won’t have to hold your breath in the face of sly family digs plus you can decide, if you want, to dive into that bottle of wine!

There will be no sitting in traffic, searching for parking, standing in long queues at checkouts. You can now, from the comfort of your own home, do your shopping online and get all your gifts delivered to the intended recipient with ease. Just make sure you’re buying local all the way and that you adopt a ‘one for you, one for me’ approach! That bit’s critical! Self-care, don’t you know?

There will be zero pressure to go out to packed pubs or restaurants wearing a sparkly number that irritates your skin and heels that aggravate your arthritis. These are the days loungewear was invented for! Plus there will be no walking the streets looking for taxis at 2am. You’ll simply have to walk, crawl or stagger back up the stairs after your Zoom call!


Now I know this might all feel a little tongue in cheek but I’m working on the basis that what we focus on expands.

If we tell ourselves that this is going to be a terrible Christmas it most likely will. But if we tell ourselves that for one year only we will make a conscious effort to enjoy a simpler one, free from pressure, free from stress and situations in which we would rather not find ourselves, then we stand a much better chance of doing just that.

We have eight weeks exactly left now until the big day. Let’s not make them eight long weeks of looking at what we will lose this year but let’s shift our focus to what we still have and what we can create, if we choose to.

Better days will roll around again very soon and before we know it we will be back to complaining about all of the pressures of Christmas. As sure as eggs are eggs!

If you’ve started to think about something you want to change but need help knowing just where to start Niamh Ennis' ‘I CHOOSE CHANGE’ 6-week group Coaching Programme may be for you. To discover more visit her site. Niamh is offering a special rate for IMAGE readers of just €447 (RRP €497) with payment plans available. It’s your time.

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