Dear Barb-Catharsis for Christmas

Dear Barb:

I hate Christmas!  I know I shouldn’t because “it’s the happiest time of the year” but I do.  I hate the money I have to spend for people I rarely see.  I am already living pay cheque to pay cheque so I have to go in debt for Christmas! If I’m lucky I will get these gifts paid off before they all come back for more gifts next Christmas.  I have been the lucky one who was nominated to be host of Christmas dinner again this year.  Thankfully my wife doesn’t hate Christmas as much as I do.  Oh, and I just can’t wait to see all my family, who fortunately I haven’t seen since last Christmas, which by the way, turned into a big fiasco! My sister arrived with some guy who no one had met, with his two kids in tow.  Since I didn’t know about the kids coming, I had to find a couple of twenties and put them in an envelope, so they wouldn’t feel left out.  My other sister’s husband had just left her, no doubt he’s an asshole.  She spent Christmas day depressed and trash talking him to anyone who would listen.  My mother is in the early stages of dementia and my dad had just been diagnosed with cancer.  Unfortunately, my dad passed away six months later.  Mom is still here.  Sometimes.   So what’s to be happy about? I think about all the poor souls who have no one at Christmas.  In fact they have no one all year, but all the build up to Christmas just makes it seems that much worse.  Religion is not a part of Christmas anymore, so what does the day really mean anyway.  To me it’s a day to get together with family members I would rather not see, buy gifts I can’t afford, and have a meal that no one really appreciates.  My question is, does anybody truly enjoy Christmas anymore? Thanks for allowing me to vent, Michael.

Whoa Michael!

No doubt your story is a sad one, but you are not alone, many people are feeling the way you do.  My advice to you would be to change your thinking.  Rather than see everything as a negative, try to see the positives.  Since you are the host you will be setting the stage for the day.  When things start to turn negative with your sister, turn it around or change the subject.  She will get the hint and I’m sure others will follow your lead.  It is sad that your mother has dementia, but on the bright side, she is still with you, as many other people’s mothers are not.  You and your family can make this a special Christmas for her, as you said she is still aware at times, so make the best of those times.  Religion is still a part of Christmas, it is people who are not celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.  If you believe in the religiosity of Christmas, then return the focus of your day to celebrating the birth of Christ.  Make the best of this Christmas and begin to change things up for next Christmas.  Talk to your family members and, if you cannot afford gifts for everyone, don’t buy them.  You should not have to go in debt for Christmas.  Draw names and put a limit on the amount to spend on each gift, this way everyone has a gift and no one is left out.  Do not allow yourself to be pressured into hosting Christmas dinner, take turns with your siblings.  The only way things will change is if everyone in your family communicates how they feel.  The alternative is to continue year after year with the same scenario and feeling the same resentment and frustration.  Merry Christmas to you and your family Michael and thanks for sharing your story.