Madie’s Top 5 Takes on … Surviving Christmas

Words by Madieson (she/her), 24 WA

Christmas is one of my favourite times of year. I love watching Christmas movies, making Gingerbread houses, and devouring some shortbread! Although I love this time of year, it can come with lots of challenges. Personally, I have struggled after the loss of a loved one and feeling overwhelmed in a few different domains.

It can be an expensive time of year.

Christmas is an expensive time of year. You not only have the costs of presents but the cost of food, transport, and accommodation. This financial pressure can result in families using credit cards or Afterpay. These financial decisions have a short term and a large long-term effect, as even months after the holiday season, finances can be tight due to debts accumulated.

Here are some helpful strategies to alleviate financial stress around Christmas, that I have tried myself!!:

  • Make homemade presents (baked goods, handmade clay presents etc.)
  • Utilise Op Shops. They are a great alternative to having to buy presents brand new.
  • Be open and honest with your family about your financial situation. I was with mine and they did not have a problem with this at all and were so understanding of the situation.

Christmas is a lonely time for many and can be hard.

Christmas can be lonely when you are by yourself, and if you are celebrating for the first time without a family member.

I remember the first Christmas after my nan passed away. Leading up to Christmas we knew would be a hard day. On the day itself, it was tough to do the things we would normally do without the presence of my nan. I remember missing her. But I also remember feeling so grateful that I had my family around me supporting me.

Being alone at Christmas can be incredibly difficult. Everyone talks about how the holiday season is a time to be with your family. But if you have a difficult family dynamic or don’t have a family to spend Christmas with, it can be isolating. That is why it is important to spend time with friends. In my mind, friends are family – especially when you are incredibly close with them.

Remember it is okay to need time to yourself.

Do not get me wrong, I absolutely love my family and even though I think they’re the best, spending so much time with them over Christmas can be draining. When you go from seeing your family once a month, or for small parts of a day, to then spending every hour with them, it can be overwhelming and draining.

As someone who is an introvert – spending the entire day with people is tiring. My family have always understood that although I love them, I need time to myself to recharge.

At Christmas, don’t forget to put your needs first and ensure you are supporting yourself. If this means taking time away to go for a walk on your own, or setting clear boundaries on when family can see you, do it.

The overwhelming mass of food and the pressure that surrounds eating at Christmas time.

As someone who has always been a fussy eater, Christmas has always been challenging regarding the whole food situation. At Christmas, when presented with all the different and diverse foods I would get overwhelmed with all the variety (though I did love lots of the food)! As my palette continued to expand as I got older, it meant that at Christmas I could diversify the foods that I was trying further. I recommend doing this by trying one or two new things each year.

My family have always been supportive of my eating habits during Christmas. They would never make comments around how much food I was eating or what I was eating. But I know this is not the experience of everyone when it comes to their family. Christmas time can be a time of high stress, which can often result in relapses in disordered eating. It is important that we remind ourselves of our coping strategies and what we can do if we do relapse in this time! Whether this be seeking additional support or removing yourself from the environment.

Answering those sticky family questions; When are the grandkids on the way? etc.

Honestly when I get asked these questions, usually by the extended family that I only see at Christmas every five years or so, I often want to just say a big F*** OFF.

However, I know this is not the most useful advice that I can provide to help answer these questions. Before I head into Christmas or big family event, I mentally prepare myself for these questions, as well as my responses.

Typically, I respond that it is a personal matter and I do not want to share. Sometimes I am more open to the questions and when I am, I answer honestly. If it is not the response that the family member is after, I will continue to reiterate that it is my own personal choice and opinion.

 

Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio

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