Monthly Archives: January 2011

Christmas – are we having fun yet?

We are brought up with the idea that Christmas is a time for grandparents, parents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins to get together and enjoy each other’s company. The reality is often very different for some people.

Some are separated geographically from their families by employment or migration and it’s impossible to travel.

I got my first-ever counselling client by putting up posters round my neighbourhood with this as a banner across the top. My counselling studies had taught me that Christmas is often a time of anything but ‘fun’ for a lot of people. And that’s exactly what my client told me; he hated Christmas because he came from a dysfunctional family of origin and had co-created his own dysfunctional family. He was now on his own.

In many cases, a person’s family of origin is something that was anything but harmonious and loving and the last thing they want to do – like my first client – is put themselves under emotional stress by pretending that everything is fine (and we all know what the definition of F.I.N.E. is don’t we?).

No matter what the reason, if you are a Christmas ‘orphan’ and you haven’t managed to make a new family of choice with close friends, this time of year can be incredibly lonely.

My Christmases have always been pleasant, generously hosted almost every year by my cousin and his wife. The Christmas just past was particularly happy because their first grandchild was there for all of us to meet. However, while the advent of an addition to this particular generation was truly joyful, it was also bitter-sweet for me. I couldn’t help missing my Mum, who would have been the baby’s Great Grand Aunt. She died three years ago this Christmas and I still miss her and think about her almost every day. At first I was puzzled at my sadness because last year I was fine, but when I thought about it, it made sense that I would be aware of the hole where she used to be in our family while cuddling the newest member of our family.

While Christmas is traditionally a time for families getting together, this year I’m going to make a concerted effort to stay in touch with the remaining relatives in my small extended family and try to catch up on a regular basis. After all, relationships are what make life worthwhile and we need to nurture them more than once a year.

I hope you had a happy Christmas and if not, may you find friendship and love during 2011.