Stories are integral to the human experience. No, seriously, we love stories.
We write them. We watch them play out in theatre and films.
Most importantly, we write stories surrounding days of the year. Case in point: December 25th.
There are a lot of stories about Christmas. There’s, of course, the story of Jesus Christ being born. Then the story that Jesus was born in September and the Christians moved the day to coincide with the Pagan's Yule. Then you’ve got Santa Claus and the story about how he comes down the chimney to deliver presents.
Yep, December 25th has a lot of stories. It’s a single day of the year where we tell a lot of stories.
But probably the story that we tell that causes the most depression and dissatisfaction, is the story that we’re supposed to be with family. And it’s supposed to be filled with joy. And be perfect. And have presents with chocolate cocoa. And all that sugar spice Christmas magic stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, if this is how your Christmas has played out, full of joy and wonder, I’m happy for you. Genuinely, I’m happy for you.
But, at the same time, this article isn’t for you.
This article is about the people whose Christmas hasn’t gone according to plan. Who aren’t with family. Who, for one reason or another, aren’t happy the way we’re told we’re supposed to be happy in the story of December 25th.
I’ve been living abroad for most of my adult life. As a result, going back home to visit family has occurred during the summer or . . . February . . . I mean, if I’m going to travel for 15-30 hours to get to Winnipeg, and spend $2000+ dollars on flights, I want to spend at least a month at home.
As a result, I haven’t been home for Christmas for a few years now. I have spent Christmas with my Rabbits. Last year, I was on a flight to Thailand Christmas Day.
This year, I'm by myself in Kuala Lumpur drinking wine, eating Indian food I bought yesterday, and binge watching Star Trek: Enterprise. I'm also trying to get some writing done, although my eyes are still sore (long story, different blog), so I can only write in very small increments.
My days haven’t gone in accordance to the story of December 25th.
And it’s honestly felt strange. When I was a kid, Christmas was about being in my pajamas and spending time with family. It was amazing.
But times change with living abroad.
Now, I've had to rewrite Christmas to include FaceTime calls to family back home. To stocking up on snacks Christmas Eve so I can stay at home Christmas Day. Watching shows I want to watch on Netflix. Taking naps. Being . . . well, being alone.
Not that it’s a sad thing.
Those same pajama days at home with family, reminiscent of Christmas traditions past, have played out when I visit home. Not on December 25th, but on the days when I was actually with my family. Not a day that I force to work because it fits in with some larger story of what December 25th is supposed to be, but on a day that my family and I wrote on our own terms.
See, that’s the thing about the story of a day. We put a lot of pressure on a single day, and all year round save our energy for that single day. I'm sure you've heard the adage that we get to write our own stories. We also get to write our own stories about December 25th.
December 25th isn’t intrinsically a “perfect day” where perfect memories are made with family, Santa, presents, Jesus, Paganism, or whatever story you buy into.
It’s a day like any other. Just as you can make today a “perfect day”, you can make any other day a perfect day.
Or, just like any other day, Christmas has the potential to be a disappointment. The potential to be lonely. The potential to be a bad day.
Although, it’ll probably be worse than any other day, because people put so much pressure on today. Saying that you’ve got to buy certain gifts for certain people. Christmas movies bombarding us with images of joy. Already, on social media, people are posting here and there to watch out for your loved ones who have mental health problems. Pointing out that the holidays are a very sad time for some people. Pointing out the dark stories associated with this day.
But, again, all of this is part of the story of December 25th.
Again, if today has gone in line with the stories for you, I’m genuinely happy for you.
But, if today hasn’t been in line with the stories you've heard—or worse, has gone in line with the dark stories of December 25th, full of misery—then remember that all the pressure for today to be perfect is part of a story.
There are 365 days in a year.
Don’t let the story of a single day ruin the other 364 days you have yet to write.