When I was a teenager I was sitting in my room crying at midnight on Christmas eve. My Mum came in to see why my light was still on and asked me what was wrong.
“I just feel like I’m going to have a terrible time tomorrow because I feel terrible. You’re supposed to enjoy Christmas.”
I’d been having a bad time with my mental health for pretty much all of my teen years and along with feeling like shit all the time comes with guilt for not enjoying holidays and family celebrations like I felt I was expected to, and I was feeling that keenly that Christmas eve.
Mum said that the holiday season puts unfair expectations on Christmas to be the most amazing day but it’s stressful for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, and I could just work on getting through it. I can’t really remember Christmas that year but I don’t remember it being terrible, it’s as if my mother’s words gave me permission to be not ok allowed me to coast through it with minimal guilt.
Mental health problems and other stressors don’t take a break just because it’s Christmas. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is pretend to be grateful for gifts you don’t want, sit through dinner with obnoxious relatives or hear any more of that ghastly Christmas music. But tell yourself it’s ok not to enjoy these things – lots of people don’t – and look toward eating chocolate covered almonds and watching Christmas specials.