Like many, Christmas with the winter festive cheer is my favourite time of year. The child in me is rekindled and set alight. I become un-containable and overcome with excitement and anticipation for the time of giving (and receiving of course)! Somehow no matter what I am going through or where I am in my life the Christmas magic never fails to momentarily heal me and take me back to what really matters – my family, my friends and making them smile. This year I can’t even imagine the season I have ahead of me. Spending the first Christmas together with my girlfriend and her family, I cannot put into words how much it means to be invited and welcomed into an other persons home and treated truly like family. This year I can already feel that it is going to be magical and show me a different side to the holidays, like no other.
When Christmas comes around it feels like sometimes we rush to count the days away to ‘the big day’. Eager to see our loved ones faces opening that long sought after gift. Itching with anticipation of the surprise to see what we have received. But this year I really want to take time to notice the little things. The arrival of the first Christmas card. The glowing lights illuminating streets and homes alike. The careful wrapping of the presents. The decorating of the tree; delicately placing the worshiped and so dearly held baubles and the angel. The precision of decoration placement, abiding to tradition so closely, you can’t help but feel warmed inside and taken right back to the years of listening out for Santa and all his reindeer on Christmas Eve. Honestly, I can’t help myself but to fully embrace and almost embody Christmas and all my families traditions. Every year I fell like I’m 8 again. I suppose it has a lot to do with my Nana. To me she really was Christmas. She was the most loving, caring and giving person I know and anything I can do to honor her memory and keep her close at heart like she always is I will. With the nights closing in and lights shining brighter than ever, I always feel closer to my Nana around this time of year as her birthday follows straight after Christmas on December 28th. The picture above was taken when I was 18 – my last Christmas with my Nana. If love could have saved her she truly would have lived forever and for the rest of my life I shall do my upmost to make her proud and be more like her. In this time of giving, my Nana is at the forefront of my mind and she always manages to make it feel like Christmas, even in memory.
However, with Christmas comes stress. Stress of finding the right present to show your love and gratitude. Stress of decorating. Stress of having everything sorted in time for Christmas. And for the cooks in the family I imagine the stress of cooking the turkey or that nut roast just right. Some people are so tuned in and manage such havoc and rising tides before Christmas so efficiently and are the picture of serenity and calmness. As you’ve probably guessed, that is not me. Unfortunately, as I’ve got older the pressure seems to mount, the pinnacle of Christmas joy seems to be more of an illusion in past years when struggling with mental health. Although the season never fails to pick me up, my anxiety builds exponentially but is masked by winters snow and chocolate caked yule logs. I wish it was something you could turn on or off because for years I have tried to turn off my worries, worries about worries, to break free from the clench grappled around my lungs suffocating me but all that comes in the new year is a flood back of emotion, self-hatred and self-sabotage. So this year and the holiday season I am trying to acknowledge my worries, nurture my anxiety and not let it railroad or control my life anymore. I have learnt so much in the past year through confronting my mental health struggles with depression and anxiety but the most revolutionizing food for thought was just this weekend when my girlfriend said to try and let go, there is no point of worrying about things so far in the future, things out of my control. Despite having heard similar advice a million times over from others it was the true sentiment and thought provoking feeling of love for each other that made me really hear those words and reflect. Now I can’t say that I am no longer anxious, worrisome Heather but I can say that it has made me want to reflect and unearth my feelings to truly heal the most sabotaging and tormenting demons of my soul.
So I guess what I am trying to say is that with this holiday season embrace it, let the joy take over you and let your childhood spirit be rekindled with the magic of Christmas. But pay attention. Pay attention to your loved ones around you and even mere acquaintances. A simple dose of Christmas cheer can make them feel wanted, feel cherished and feel at home. In a time of giving lets give love, give care and give friendship. Something so simple can help mend a broken soul, and find the true hidden identity of a lost spirit begging to be found and sucked out of the depressive abyss into the light. And please if you are like me and struggle with your mental health don’t hide it and be in a constant trance of denial because the wound only deepens and makes healing that much harder. Reach out. Open up. And most importantly love; love Christmas, love your friends, love your family, love your partner and as always find it in you to love yourself again.