Why it’s a happy thing to be sad this Christmas

I have had, and seen elsewhere, a few comments that point towards something rather sad about Christmas.

Smile! No pressure. Come on. Just a liitle one? Hm. I SAID SMILE you little shit. Now. Like you mean it...
Smile! No pressure. Come on. Just a liitle one? Hm. I SAID SMILE you little shit. Now. Like you mean it…

Our general cultural attitude is – “It’s Christmas, you must smile until your face splits in half – at which point we will pour chocolate and sherry into your open head until you vomit all the colours of happiness!”

Then I see and hear people say “I’m afraid I get a bit down at Christmas,” as if this were a shameful thing to admit. Such is the pressure to wear permanent glee that we are becoming embarrassed about half of what Christmas should be.

We are the guerrilla grumps, we dare to bare our blubbers to you Christmas laughter lubbers – or something!

My Xmas is complicated, and I’m betting for most people it is too.

Baby-Panda has his own special christmas dream
Baby-Panda has his own special christmas dream

There will be cries of delight at presents, mountains of cake joy and sticky-bun fun, films and late nights and whole days in pyjamas.

Around my table are the beautiful things, my son’s cherubic face, my wife’s warm and wise smile, my daughter trying to text her mates under the table! (Not that her mates are under the table – that would be weird – see, she’s hiding her phoneโ€ฆ never mind.)

However, there are other ghost-places set. My mother is always a clearly present absence, as are my father and sister. We haven’t had a Christmas together for over twenty years. I haven’t even spoken to my mother for eight years, my father for three. They’re alive, but unwilling to pay the price I cost to their prideful notions of what good people they are. It’s a shame, because they miss such wonderful grandchildren.

While I have moved beyond infantile resentments for the dark and haunted Christmases of childhood, it is still important for me to be respectful. I have scars which need to be acknowledged, albeit now in more mature and parental ways. I recognise that little boy I was as I might had he been my own child, having died young. I do not refuse the grief this brings, which would worsen it, or brood selfishly on ‘poor little me’, which would feed it. I try instead to simply allow it, and in so doing I feel, sometimes cry a little, and it passes.

So goes any big anniversary. They are times not for pure joy, but for pure remembrance. Weddings and birthdays, Christmas and new year, all the other holidays and markers, they bring both the chance to recognise what we have, and to commemorate what has gone. We can hold the loved ones who surround us, and offer our thoughts to those distant or lost.

Take your bad news somewhere else you selfish git!
Take your bad news somewhere else you selfish git!

My wife has these conflicts, each friend I talk to does, and now bloggers are showing their own signs that they are struggling to accept what Xmas actually means.

So this is RoS saying f*k everyone and what they expect. I may be just some blabbering arse on an island with no authority for anything, but I am giving you permission to reclaim Xmas!

Be sad – because it is in commemorating our dead that we see the gift of our living.

Reminisce – because reflecting on what we have lost shows us the value of what remains.

Cry a little – because that is how we cleanse ourselves ready to fully accept new joys.

You are not humbugs, you are not abnormal, and you should never be ashamed for what you feel.

Santa is evil!
Santa is evil!
What the hell is happening to me? “Oi, Santa – did you make me nice for Christmas?”
“***You bastard!***”

14 thoughts on “Why it’s a happy thing to be sad this Christmas

Add yours

  1. Evil, evil Santa–we can’t call this a rant. Well, we can. Your second paragraph–excellent as it is–makes it a half-rant. We can call it a rant for humanity–ours and everyone else’s, and I agree, let’s not get stuck under the mountain of gifts and instead connect to the real–to our memories of times, places and people gone from our lives; to those we love still with us; and to our faith (if we own such a beast, now is the time to embrace that too). You can just skip that last part if it doesn’t apply.

  2. Funny how telling someone to smile never results in that person smiling. Not for real, anyway. Ever feel like being mean? Like stomping on a kitten? Not saying you would, just ever felt like it? And then people look at you like you’re a jerk? Like they know what’s going on inside you? This happens to me a lot. Even at Christmas. Santa hates me.

  3. I have connected yet again it seems.
    I am hoping as the days draw nearer my Xmas Spirit will emerge.

    Be Sad – My youngest brother died a few years back, alone in am empty Hotel room in India, but I see the gift of living.
    Reminisce – Yes whether it be the dearly departed or those we have loved and lost.
    Cry a Little – That I have a tendency to do around the table..and it’s just because I want to..no rhyme or reason at the time, probably the accumulation of the above.

    My parents are still with me 85 and 83..I see them struggle now with every day life and that is what I think about the most.
    I am glad that you cry a little, I am sad that you and your parents are alienated and in closing you’re not a blabbering arse on an island… you are unique, gifted and your ranting, wisdom and humour bring me much joy. So Merry Bloody Christmas to you and your family. ๐Ÿ™‚ x

    1. Thank you R-Mum, that’s a truly lovely thing to say. It really does mean a lot to know what I do at my keyboard can produce smiles on the other side of the planet.
      I’m sorry to hear of your brother, I hope you will be at peace with this soon.
      Your parents have you, so they have a great gift all year to be thankful for.
      Happy Christmas Your Arse to you too ๐Ÿ˜‰ x

  4. When people tell me, “smile, It’s not that bad”. I say, “but I am smiling”. Sometimes I scowl to instigate these encounters.

    1. Nice – ‘pseudo-grumping’ – I like it ๐Ÿ™‚
      Maybe next time someone tells me to smile I’ll imitate a stroke victim and lisp “are oo aching un ov ee?” that ought to send them into spasms of embarrassment!

  5. Excellent! I can’t tell you how many awful Christmases I had when I was a kid. I could fill 2 books. They were all dreadful and sad. And I appreciate the sentiment behind this blog – and was empathetic when you wrote about your parents. I always appreciate the fuck everyone attitude – and not only for holidays. But I kind of like Christmas though… it is just every peaceful *now*, but it took a looooong time to get to that place. I am glad you have your beautiful wife and children to share it with. Cheers.

  6. Great thoughts. I’ve always been a fan of Scrooge myself. I think he’s gotten the “bums rush” with how Dickens give’s him this big conversion. It’s all BS. Back to my scotch!

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