It’s the week of Christmas and this can mean so many different things for everyone. In fact, this wonderful time of the year can feel very confusing. I remember my dad saying Christmas was the only day his father was sober during the year. So Christmas was a “good” day but a sad reminder that the day after would not be better.
Christmas Means Different Things To Different People
Christmas conjures up stories and images of togetherness, being kind, and giving generously. Erin has told me stories of being at her granddad’s house on Christmas morning and not being able to walk in the room because of all the presents around the tree. At the same time Christmas can show the great disparity between those that have and those that have not as there are some that cannot afford the simplest of gifts.
For some their faith is a great comfort during this time of year. They attend a religious service and walk away with a sense of hope and meaning. Yet, there are others that have felt rejected by faith and religion and its presence during this time of year is painful.
Christmas Can Be Both Wonderful and Hard
Christmas can be both wonderful and hard. We do not have to try and make it one or the other. As a kid (Stephen) Christmas was not a very special day. Our family did not see other family and we spent the whole day just sitting around at our house. When I married Erin Christmas became pretty idyllic. Her mom hosted and all the family came over, neighbors stopped by, there were presents, laughter, and it lasted till late in the night. Four years ago Erin’s mom died and Christmas as it once was ended.
Christmas has looked very different over the years and it has felt very different over the years. It went from feeling boring to exciting and warm and now it feels hard and sad and fun as we try and figure out new traditions.
For many, Christmas does not just mean one thing or feel one way. Our cultural scripts and family expectations might cause us to believe Christmas can only be one way. But this is shortsighted.
What Does Christmas Mean To You and Your Partner?
What memories and emotions does Christmas stir in you? What about in your partner? As Christmas approaches it might be a helpful exercise to have this conversation as a couple before the day arrives. Give one another the opportunity to know the full range of emotions and memories that you might be feeling. You don’t just have to be happy or sad or hopeful or despairing. You can be them all.