Features

Christmas Alone

Image: feet propped up silhouetted in the dark against Christmas lights.

CW: mental health issues

In the lead up to the Christmas holidays it becomes inevitable a question will be asked. “What are you doing for Christmas?” When it is being thrown around I usually sit there, smile, and hope I am not asked. Why? Well, because I have nothing to do.

The majority of people would agree with me when I say that the main point of Christmas is family. Gathering around the table all together, going for walks, arguing about nonsense – all the joys of family. I have no family. As a child, excitement filled winter in anticipation for all that came with it. St. Nicholas’ Day, Lebkuchen, presents; but above all else, spending time with my family. My fondest memories are talking to my father or some other family member. I look back on it all with nostalgia. In honesty, remembering makes it all the worse. The first time I spent Christmas on my own, I tried to keep up the traditions. I bought a Christmas tree, made Lebkuchen, cooked something special. Two years later it became more effort than it was worth, and far more depressing than uplifting. The joy was lost. What is the point without family to celebrate with?  

Winter still remains my favourite season. Christmas markets and mulled wine fill me with optimism for what is to come. Yet, the closer to Christmas it gets, the optimism is replaced with emptiness. No matter how much I try to enjoy myself, I can’t. The hollowness grows when trying to do anything to take my mind off it all. Anything Christmasy reminds me of what I’m missing out on. Anything normal with which I am trying to distract myself. So, I end up doing nothing. My blanket provides warmth on an especially cold day. All I can think about is that I am alone. I’d like to say that Christmas is now a day like any other, though reality says otherwise. It is far worse. 

I’d like to say that Christmas is now a day like any other, though reality says otherwise. It is far worse. 

Avoiding the question of ‘How are you spending Christmas?’ isn’t because of hatred for the day. The best way I can describe it is as a bizarre game of pretending everything is fine. A way to cover up the grand amounts of anxiety that I want to escape. Having to say that I have nothing to do, or no family to spend time with, isn’t fun. Nor do I want someone to worry about me when they should be enjoying their own day. Perhaps there is a hope that if I pretend all is right, everything will be. Besides, it is only a month. No need for others to worry. Isolation begins to take over, and everything gets dark. I question whether people would appreciate a message of ‘Merry Christmas’ from me. Why would it matter coming from me? I feel better off forgotten, so most of the time, I don’t. Though I wish I had every year. 

Rather than have to deal with this, I wish I could come to terms with my situation. As much as I want to be in the moment, there is a reality I cannot leave behind. Regardless of how much I tell myself to get over it, that there is so much I should be grateful for, the loneliness is too much. Who would have guessed being disowned would leave long lasting detrimental effects on one’s mental health? Unfortunately, that is the nightmare of mental health. The main reason for writing this isn’t to complain about how hard it is, or try and get pity. Writing this has been a step in coming to terms with the anxiety I ignored for so long. 

In the end, though, someone will send a ‘Merry Christmas’. It reminds me that while yes, I am a mess, there remain those who care. 

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