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Not everyone loves Christmas – here’s how to make it a happier time for someone else

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by Niamh Ennis
22nd Dec 2022

Not everyone loves Christmas. This may appear at first glance to be somewhat stating the obvious but trust me some of you might also need reminding of this fact, just so that you can tread more carefully. There’s a frantic nature to Christmas at the best of times but it appears even more out of control this year, which is why I feel this is worth repeating ‘not everyone loves Christmas’.

Of course, the reasons for not loving or even liking Christmas are varied and complex, but examples of why this could be true may be as a result of the following: if you lost someone you love this year, if you have money worries, if a member of your family is not well, if you’re heartbroken, if you are worried about your home, if you are a victim of domestic abuse, if you are estranged from members of your family or if you are on your own and would prefer not to be. Any one of these scenarios is enough to dislike Christmas and more than one will likely leave you dreading it.

The Christmas Card scene you’ve been conditioned to expect could not be further from the truth. Happy families sitting around a food-laden table with a voluptuously festive tree surrounded by beautifully wrapped presents and Christmas carols playing away in the background. If you were fortunate enough, you will also have childhood memories of much happier times when Santa came to visit you and your only worry was if you would poison Rudolph with that lump of coal.

Today, there is just so much pressure placed on everyone to create and have the perfect Christmas. I sympathise with anyone who is feeling themselves crumble under the weight of expectation; most notably if you’re a parent and you are experiencing the burden of providing everything that your child is hoping for. When you think back to your own childhood the memories have, in fact, a lot more to do with how you felt, the people around you, the laughter, the excitement and that sense of togetherness. But let’s face it a five-year looking up at you with wide eyes filled with disappointment won’t be so keen to hear or appreciate that!

Then there is the increase in social activity to contend with. Everyone insisting that you meet up before Christmas resulting in you chasing your tail and becoming the ultimate professional people pleaser saying yes to everything and everyone. What about the office parties, which let’s be honest can be terrifying ordeals for the introverts amongst us; and nightmarish for those are forced play along with the pretence rather than be seen to be anti-social? Or the dread of the coming together of your family around the dinner table, as each sibling resumes their role and hierarchy, and old tensions return to the surface with frightening ease.

Anxiety levels are understandably at an all-time high this year and so it is for this very reason that, instead of conforming and feeling that you have no choice but to get sucked in, please let me offer you a few alternatives to consider.

This Christmas think not about what it can do for you but what you can do for others.

Time and again it has been proven that one way of making yourself feel better is to divert your attention by looking after someone else; and what better time of year to do it than in the run up to Christmas? I’m not attempting to turn you into a Mother Teresa look-alike but some of the simple things I’m thinking of could feature: –

1. Make a point of visiting someone that you know is lonely or alone. If it felt appropriate, consider inviting them to join you for your Christmas Day dinner

2. Bake a cake or prepare something home-made for someone who might be under some financial pressure and drop it around to them, or better still, why not put together a bumper festive hamper and leave it anonymously on their doorstep?

3. Drop a personal handwritten note to someone you know has been bereaved in the past year, or for whom Christmas is an awful reminder of those missing from their lives. Let them know that you’re thinking of them and that you’re always here and available if they want to talk (or even if they don’t).

4. Research what organisations are looking for extra volunteers at this time of the year whether it’s to help with food distribution, visiting the sick or the elderly, helping out at rescue shelters – see where the need is greatest in your area and offer a helping hand. (But do investigate this early in the year!)

5. Observe if someone in your family is left doing the heavy lifting at Christmas time and talk the other family members about how you can all share the load more evenly. This applies to the cost factor too!

Nothing takes you away from your own misery faster than focusing on helping someone else with theirs.

I’m especially conscious of it this year as 2022 has been very kind to me. I’ve healed a lot of pain; I’ve let go of a lot of the anger and sadness that had lodged in my heart and I’ve opened my heart so much more to myself and to others. I’ve worked hard at this but I’m thankfully in a very good place now. And because it hasn’t always been like this it’s made me more grateful than ever.

The memories of painful and sad past Christmases are still very present but these days I focus on the people that are in my life and give gratitude for them. I try to look out for those who are where I once was and I remember that someone helped me along and so now it’s my turn. The question is, is it yours?

Why not make this Christmas happy for someone else and maybe, just maybe, it might make yours a little happier in the process. Happy Christmas. May you be ready and may you be able.

Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change & Transformation Coach and Author of Get Unstuck. She is an accredited Personal, Leadership & Executive Coach and the Lead Coach in the IMAGE Business Club. Niamh has created a special three-part series called RELEASE 2022 & RECEIVE 2023 which will ease you from one year to the next and prepare your mindset as you do.