I hate Christmas!

Dr. Sohail, I hate Christmas! I get so angry at this time of year. I’m tired of hearing how wonderful Christmas is. I’m running out of patience with the unending pressure to buy presents for people who need nothing, whereas people in need receive precious little financial aid to buy the necessities of life. I’m tired of being treated discourteously by rude sales clerks. It’s especially difficult to have to listen to peoples’ plans for wonderful family get-togethers. Why do I have to put on a happy face at Christmas functions, when I prefer to go home, lock the door, and forget about Christmas completely? I hate the gaudy Christmas lights and trees, the inflated snowmen with vacant smiles, and the morbidly obese Santa’s that try to convince me that Christmas is a happy, fulfilling time. This evening, my anger almost pushed me over the edge. In a fit of rage, I threw a book violently across the living room, and then savagely ripped it in four.

When my anger abated and rational thought returned, a sobering thought came to me. Is it possible that it’s not Christmas I’m really angry about? Maybe Christmas amplifies my dissatisfaction at how lonely and meaningless my life has turned out in my retirement years. I’m starting to realize that this bitterness is not serving me well. It alienates me from others and actually fuels the loneliness I’m trying to escape from. And worse still, by emphasizing what’s wrong with my life, it damages my self-esteem. It would be of greater benefit to think of ways to brighten up my life instead of railing against the shortcomings of the Christmas season. As Helen Keller so eloquently advises, maybe I could, try lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

– Gary


 

Dear Gary,

Just as we were finishing this week’s Blog, we received your letter. We were so impressed by the expression of your feelings and your astute insight into their underlying dynamics that we wanted to include it.

Your letter reflects the experiences of many people at this time of year. We hope some of the suggestions in this week’s Blog will sustain you through the holiday season. Dr. Sohail mentions reaching out to those who are lonely. We are delighted you reached out to us and our Green Zone readers and hope you will consider reaching out to others in your community.

Thank you for sharing and supporting us in enhancing mental health through education!

And now here’s Dr. Sohail!
Warmly,

Bette Davis RN BN MN

Green Zone Blogging Team

 

Every family is unique and every Christmas is a unique family experience. We all know that the holiday season can be one of the most exciting as well as one of the most stressful times of the year. While some families look forward to meeting and exchanging gifts with their dear ones, there are others who dread having dinner with those relatives whose hearts are filled with anger, resentment and bitterness. There are so many who walk on egg shells during the holidays as they do not want to offend or upset their relatives.

I have tried to capture the essence of one family’s holiday dilemma in my poem:

 

CHRISTMAS DINNER

It was a beautiful Christmas night

The snow was falling lightly, as tiny flakes of silver

The city was bathed in the glow of Christmas lights

Excited and happy, the family waited

With food and presents piled high

Waiting for him to arrive

So the celebration could begin

With a bang

The old man staggered through the door

Looked at the presents in the corner

Kicked them in anger and disgust

He looked at his family with bloodshot, tearful eyes

And poured out his anguished heart

Held back for so long

O my children !

You stay away all the year

And try to make up for it by Christmas presents

You live smug and safe while

I dwell in the depths of despair

No one comes, no one goes

I talk to myself all day long

Everybody knows here

Their families have long died

We celebrate that death

Once a year

By giving presents

Lighting candles

How we all pretend!

I celebrated all day

Just to get myself drunk enough

To tell you people

For God’s sake

Don’t do this to me again

 

In our clinic we often find it necessary to offer additional appointments to those clients who need extra help to cope with the holiday stresses. We have found several effective strategies to make holidays, like Christmas, a more peaceful, Green Zone experience. We ask our clients to:

 

  1. Consider being more flexible around holiday gatherings, for example, have Christmas dinner the weekend before or after December 25th, so that everybody can join the celebration.
  2. Reflect on last year’s holiday experience and decide what to do and what not to do, so that you can repeat the pleasant and delete the unpleasant experiences, making this year’s holidays enjoyable, exciting and peaceful.
  3. Think about those who may be homeless or financially challenged. In our community we have many voluntary organization such as, St. Vincent’s Kitchen where the poor can have a Christmas Turkey Dinner. In our clinic, we have created a tradition of Green Zone Santa where we buy gifts for those who cannot buy gifts for themselves. It is amazing how many people contribute to the funds of Green Zone Santa and express the generosity of their spirit. That is how they enjoy giving as well as taking, and experience the spirit of sharing.
  4. Be aware of those who are alone, even in your own family or community. Holidays are especially hard for those who live alone, have been recently divorced or lost a dear one to death in the last year. We suggest that they have dinner with their circle friends, that we call Family of the Heart.

 

Christmas, like Easter, Thanksgiving and birthdays, is a special occasion and needs thoughtful consideration. We try to help people in making healthy and wise choices to make Christmas a peaceful Green Zone experience.

So now it is your turn! We would love to read your Christmas stories, your dilemmas and dreams, struggles and successes. Please send us your questions.

Peacefully,

Sohail

 

11 thoughts to “I hate Christmas!”

  1. Re: I hate Christmas. I don’t think you’re alone in feeling this way. For me personally any little problem or glitch I can usually solve becomes magnified a thousand times at this time of year. It is a time you are expected to be happy and cheerful even if you feel miserable and sad inside. I feel we are trying to live up to a fantasy which has lost what Christmas is supposed to be. My only suggestion for you is to do things that will make you feel happy within yourself ,make your own rules on how you want Christmas to be celebrated or not, and be good to yourself. Let yourself be who you are. That’s what Christmas should be. Let your own star shine. J.The.

    1. Dear Jo, Thank you for your wise and insightful comments for Gary and many others like him. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

  2. Dear Dr. Sohail, Bette & Helene:
    I am always impressed as to the many ways that you all (Green Zone Team) try to help out your clients and now the community at large. It would be helpful to have more clinics reach out to their clients in a similar fashion to reach the greater community that suffer in silence.
    There is hope that with the many resources available (since there is a greater awareness of mental health issues) that these resources would be readily available to the friends that need them. It would be helpful to share these resources with the younger generation (so that they can get help earlier before they become young adults with mental health issues).
    Being a volunteer for years…..has helped with being lonely whether during the holidays or otherwise. Family of the heart has also helped.
    In gratitude of your continuous support,
    F.E.

    1. Dear F.E., You are a part of the Green Zone Team as you are recognizing the need of mental health education in the community. People like you make me optimistic that we would be successful in helping people, young and old, to get professional help when they need it. Some find it a taboo, while others find it a stigma. We believe that education helps in decreasing stigma and taboo. Stay in touch. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

  3. Wasn’t sure if I HAD to comment to sign up for the newsletter as I did not see any other option! Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas. I have reconciled my stance with the excesses of Christmas the same way I like to sleep in on a ‘Sun’day without having to worship Sol Invictus!

    1. Dear Kevin, It all boils down to ACCEPTANCE. The more we can accept ourselves and our environments in a peaceful way the more we can lead Green Zone Lifestyles. As long as you are happy with your choices and not hurting others, you have the right to your own unique lifestyle. I am glad you shared your comments even if the Blog gently pushed you in that direction. Stay in touch. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

  4. I forgot to mention, if you enjoy formal learning, you can take up to two degrees for free at York university if you’re 60+.

  5. As for the meaninglessness in retirement, I get you. I’m also retired and it’s an adjustment . I’m looking for small things that give me joy and trying to expand them. For example, I love animals, so I am planning on spending more time with them by volunteering at an animal shelter. I like plants, so I am creating a huge indoor garden in my kitchen. You may have skills, perhaps those you used at your job, that you would enjoy applying in a more stress free, volunteer setting. For instance, I used to be a speech pathologist , and someone has asked me to run an autism group at a local children’s centre. This would also allow you to make new social connections. I am also learning, to my surprise, that I am making new friendships just by being chatty with people I see regularly, like the flower lady at my local Metro.

  6. Dear Gary: I’m not crazy about Christmas either. I often go away on a trip to a warm location in order to escape it. (Oops, so sorry I can’t come to your Christmas dinner, I’m going to be in Zanzibar! What a shame :). As for presents, I long ago took the money I used to spend on presents and gave it to charities, sometimes in the name of people I used to buy gifts for. It makes me feel happy and allows me to avoid the mall. Eventually my family got used to it and responded in kind. As for the loneliness, I am in a couple of meetup groups which always get together on Christmas Day or New Years because they have nowhere else to go. I have learned to enjoy the parts of Christmas I like, such as the music , and avoid the parts I don’t like, such as the shopping.

    1. Dear Deborah,
      Thank you for your wise and perceptive comments on my blog posting “I Hate Christmas”. Enjoy yourself in Zanzibar!
      Gary

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