Christmas photo of a woman outside in the snow, next to a quote graphic

 

I spend Christmas alone, but I am not to be pitied.

This is my choice. I have family who would always welcome me and part of me feels guilty for not visiting them and spending this precious time with them... for I know my parents will not always be here. Last year I had a friend who struggled to accept my repeated 'no' to joining him for the day, as I had given in and done so previously. But welcome as I was, it wasn’t Christmas on my terms when I went there. 

Christmas generally is too much.

What I want to be able to do is retreat. Christmas generally is too much. Too many pressures and expectations. Too much break in routine. Being away from home is difficult and with weather uncertainty, even more travel anxiety is added into the mix. It is safer to stay at home. So I put my cards up and treasure those for the kind thoughts behind them, but otherwise have no other decorations. And I open the doors on the advent calendar my mother posts me each year − a ritual I now look out for more than she probably realises. 

On Christmas day, I take my time opening the presents I am sent and I have phone calls with my family. Then I go into my retreat space with my ear defenders and I read and write up my notebooks using my fountain pen, with my familiar comfort items around me, especially the doll which I received for Christmas when I was three... the first Christmas memories I have because that doll became so important to me. If I want to watch some television, I can. I tell myself that surely this is a rare day in the year that I can have anxiety-free with no pressure to do anything or go anywhere. And hopefully this way I can turn Christmas from the negative pressure it feels like into something more positive.

A traditional Christmas? No. I think mine is a non-Christmas − a time to avoid the world. So I am afraid mine is not really a Christmas story at all.

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