Families come in all shapes and sizes, and our lives have many chapters.
And nothing puts the spotlight on those things like Christmas.
When it is far to easy to see our lives in stark contrast to the advertising messages of love and family joy at Christmas.
Apparently, according to the messages we are bombarded with from absolutely everywhere before Christmas, we are meant to have bottomless wallets, families that can be in the same place at the same time, in the same amazing mood of love and peace and joy. Everything should be magical.
Then on the day itself, if your life is anything like mine, your Facebook feed and twitter stream is a flood.
A flood of the same stories. Happy children, tables groaning with food, families gathering together and so many presents under Christmas trees that it makes your own home look like you were channelling the Christmas scrooge.
But you know what?
Not everything is at it seems.
Even those who are sharing those wonderful family moments, are likely to have:
– driven for hours with whining and fighting children, maybe even had an expected vomit along the way
– had to put themselves in a small time out so that they don’t say something they regret to a relative (my hand is up on that one this year)
– grabbed the happy snap, after yelling “just smile this one time”
– loaded their credit card with the wave of Christmas gift shopping that is never enough (until the bill lands in January)
– wrangled multiple conversations with many relatives trying to organise where Christmas would be, what the menu would be and who would bring what, only to find on arrival that someone had helpfully brought the exact same meal item
– spent the morning painfully missing their children, in a quiet house all alone.
In my life, my husband and I had an era where there was a quite bit of family conflict, and we were doing our best to straddle the bridge. To stay connected to all the camps, and we were committed to show up at 3 different Christmases.
Our reality check was when we found ourselves eating hot chips at a servo for Christmas Lunch.
I kid you not.
We looked at each other as we sat on uncomfortable barstools in a dirty servo, eating horrid hot chips, and said “how did this become Christmas”.
And sometimes, Christmas can be just like that.
The moment that shows you that life clearly isn’t a Hallmark card. In fact, it is much more like a day time movie, full of drama and conflict, and working to find the good in the end.
Perhaps your Christmas has left you feeling like you’re out in the cold. That you are the only one sitting at home on your couch eating potato chips and waiting until the day is over, hoping that tomorrow it’s won’t hurt so bad.
I promise you, you are not alone.
Many people out there (probably right beside you) are dealing with stuff that they find truly painful.
Missing their children. Grieving relationships. Caught in financial turmoil. Trapped in family conflict. Losing loved ones. Dealing with health issues that steal their hope for the future.
Regardless of all of those things, the sun will rise tomorrow.
And the day will be warmer.
A day without the expectation of a “magical Christmas” is ever so much gentler.
For all of us.
May your Christmas leave you just a little warmer than you expected, knowing that you are not the only one standing out in the cold.
That a piece of all of us, is waiting for the morning.
The morning that is not Christmas, and we can exhale and get on with our everyday living.