Christmas isn't always wonderful. Sometimes it's just downright dismal.
If that's true for you this year, I'm here to tell you that it's ok to feel blue at Christmas. It's ok to wonder how you'll get through the so-called festive season, and even to wish that you could hide underneath the duvet until January is here.
That Christmas is sometimes sad and joyless isn't a popular sentiment to share, of course. It's hard to struggle with the festive season when it seems as though everyone around you is irrepressibly happy. It can feel as though there's an awful lot of pressure to be full of Christmas cheer, and like you're letting the side down if you can't don a Santa hat and dance around the Christmas tree to The Pogues.
Christmas can be tough for innumerable reasons. In my house, this year, Christmas is a poignant, sad and tearful time. A very sudden family bereavement and some worrying health news about a loved one has me feeling all out of Christmas sparkle this year.
Throw in some more minor worries - a toddler with a double ear infection and the inconvenience of a few late-paying clients in the one month that it would be nice not to be feverishly pressing 'refresh' on my online bank account several times a day, and you'll understand why I feel all a bit Bah Humbug right now.
Whether you're facing a difficult break-up, dealing with relationship problems, working through grief or simply suffering from the Christmas blues, it can really suck to feel unable to rouse yourself to feel all Christmassy and magical.
That said, I'm determined not to drag myself through Christmas in a foul-mood funk this year. Being a parent isn't easy and putting a brave face on for the kids is a tough gig, but I'm finding that my kids are actually the glorious silver lining in my sad and cloudy Christmas.
I've discovered that I only have to spend a few minutes in togetherness with the kids to find my Chrismas spirit rising. I snuggle with the youngest in her Christmas onesie while we read Santa stories and I find a little flame of festive delight kindling in my heart. I listen to the eldest talk about how glad he is to discover that you can be old enough to know the truth about Santa and yet still feel lit up inside with excitement about Christmas, and that flame burns brighter still. My middle child slips his hand in mine as we're walking home from the shops and talking about our Christmas Day plans - he wants us to take a walk once it's dark so we can dance up and down the street like we did last Christmas Day - and suddenly the darkness in my heart is all but extinguished and I find myself full of reasons and resolve to make this Christmas special, against all the odds.
Truth be told, I know I won't feel like dancing in the street this Christmas Day and I don't mind admitting that tears are sliding down my cheeks as I write this. But don't throw me a pity party - they're not tears of misery but ones of thankfulness. Because no matter how blue I feel this Christmas, I am genuinely thankful for my kids through whom I'll get to feel a little of the joy that's all too thin on the ground this Christmas.
It's ok if you're low on Christmas spirit. Christmas isn't always wonderful and it does no-one any favours to force yourself to feel it when you don't. So if, like me, you're facing a blue Christmas instead of dreaming of a white one this year, just remember that you're not alone. Be kind to yourself, don't expect too much from anyone - yourself included - and know that I'll be raising a glass to you on Christmas Day. And hoping that next year we'll both feel like dancing in the street on Christmas Day once more.
TOPICS: Christmas UK