Dreading Christmas



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November 2017

Are you dreading Christmas?

Dreading Christmas, the season and what goes with it is quite common amongst those who suffer with anxiety. The root cause of this anxiety, however, isn’t always the same for everyone. 

There are really two main issues relating to the Christmas season that cause anxiety - lack of money and socialising.

Whilst I can’t help you get more money, I can suggest ways of dealing with not having enough at this time of year. The aim of this is to help you reduce your anxieties.

1. You dread Christmas because you just can't afford it.

Lack of cash at Christmas has long been a problem for many people. It's not a modern problem. I remember this Victorian nursery rhyme from my childhood and most of us know the story of Tiny Tim ( "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens). 

Nursery rhyme Christmas is coming and image of geese

Although Tiny Tim was most concerned about what his family would eat, these days there are so many more things we think we're expected to provide at this time of year. There are presents, the food, sending cards... the list goes on. 

But really by far the biggest problem around money at this time of year is trying to fulfil the expectations of others isn’t it?

Christmas Expectations

Children make lists of things they think they want and have come to expect all their wishes to be fulfilled. These wish lists are often fuelled by advertisers on TV and elsewhere.

Then there may be expectations on the part of other family members. If you are usually the one who has everyone round on Christmas Day and cooks the dinner - that's what they expect every year. Very often it doesn't even occur to them to check whether you are still happy with the arrangement. Maybe you love doing it when you can afford to, but this year...?

Time for a re-think of your arrangements and those habits which have gone unchallenged for far too long?

You won’t get a medal (or often even thanks) for getting into debt (or more debt) just fulfilling what others have come to expect. This year it’s time to establish boundaries.

I know, I can hear you saying that it’s easier said than done, but who said it was easy? Nevertheless it can be done. And when done once it becomes easier each year afterwards to make changes when appropriate.

"But I'm afraid they'll call me mean, or won't like me if I let them down!"

This is the big one - emotional blackmail.

If they call you mean or selfish then in reality they are the selfish ones, not caring about your feelings. Even if you get huge overdraft and meet all their expectations they won’t care about you any more. They'll just see it as a sign that they can keep walking all over you.

I have a free download available that goes into greater detail about why trying to make others like you is the wrong way to go about things and will never get you more liked.


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This is the year for a more thoughtful festive season

It's not about what life throws at us. Each of us will hit some sort of difficult times at least once in our lives (probably more). It's not what happens to us but how we deal with it that counts. That's what shows character.

FOOD

Is there really any need to buy lots of extras if you can’t afford it? Why not just focus on the main meal? We eat far too much in the Western world anyway. 

How many homes have bowls of nuts, dates, fruit, etc that are barely touched?

If they have come to rely on you for their Christmas dinner you need to tell them now that this year you just can’t afford it.

Alternative suggestions

If you can’t afford turkey, make do with chicken but treat the meal as special and all sit down around the table. 

You might suggest everyone could still eat at yours but ask each person to contribute something towards the meal either money or, preferably, some of the food.

Tell them it will only be a simple meal this year with chicken but that you can all still enjoy being together.

Or just say, sorry but I can’t do dinner this year.

GIFTS

quote about Christmas giving and reindeer holding gift

Gifts and Children

Many people spend far too much on their children. Many children I know will write a wish list and then expect to receive every single item on it! If they don’t they then start getting angry and saying that all their friends had everything…etc (And we all know that one isn't true!)

Is it really in their best interests to teach them so young to expect to get everything they want?

Very often children also ask for things they don’t really want, but they saw it in an ad or a catalogue and simply requested just for the sake of it.

In reality the less they get, the more they appreciate what they have.

Often it’s the parents who are trying not to appear mean to other parents, so they try and give their kids more than anyone else gives theirs. 

Just because your kids have fewer gifts than their friends does not mean you’re a bad parent. In fact it could show that you are more caring in just choosing for your children a few special things that will be treasured rather than discarded on Boxing Day.  

Gifts for adult friends and relatives

If you truly can’t afford to give presents to adult loved ones then tell them not to exchange gifts this year. If they truly care about you they will understand. If they don’t understand then that’s selfish of them, but you stick to what you decided.

If they still choose to buy you a gift anyway, then just thank them and be grateful. Some people genuinely prefer giving gifts to receiving them - I will talk about them in the next article.

Gifting your time or skills

Presents don't have to be bought. There are other gifts you can give that will still be appreciated.

If you have special skills you might explain to others that although you can’t afford to buy them gifts this year, you are making promises. This means that you give them a gift of your time. For example, if you enjoy gardening write on a card that you offer them an hour (or as many hours as you can spare) to weed their garden, mow the lawn etc.

If they have children you could offer time baby sitting

If you can knit or sew you could offer your time to make them something they want if they supply the materials. Or to cook them something if they provide the ingredients.

(You can download free printable vouchers for such offers) This website also has suggestions for other free gifts you might make.


Remember it’s supposed to be "the thought that counts”

It’s hard when you want to give gifts but can’t afford to give what you’d like to give. Accept that this year that’s all you can afford and do the best you can - anything given with love, however small, is a true gift.

Don’t feel obliged to buy gifts for those to whom you feel you should give but don’t really want to and can’t afford to this year. Just tell them you are sorry but this year you can’t afford it. Decent people will understand. If they get annoyed by this in any way then that just shows the sort of people they are. (see above for free download "How to be Liked")

Focus on what is possible rather than on what’s not. Enjoy frosty mornings, walks, singing carols, pretty decorations in shop windows, films on TV etc. Above all, focus what resources you do have on those who matter most. Be brave enough to resist commercialisation and feeling you should do what you simply can’t.

The true spirit of Christmas is love, not receiving stuff.

Remember it’s supposed to be "the thought that counts”

It’s hard when you want to give gifts but can’t afford to give what you’d like to give. Accept that this year that’s all you can afford and do the best you can - anything given with love, however small, is a true gift.

Don’t feel obliged to buy gifts for those to whom you feel you should give but don’t really want to and can’t afford to this year. Just tell them you are sorry but this year you can’t afford it. Decent people will understand. If they get annoyed by this in any way then that just shows the sort of people they are. (see above for free download "How to be Liked")

Focus on what is possible rather than on what’s not. Enjoy frosty mornings, walks, singing carols, pretty decorations in shop windows, films on TV etc. Above all, focus what resources you do have on those who matter most. Be brave enough to resist commercialisation and feeling you should do what you simply can’t.

The true spirit of Christmas is love, not receiving stuff.

Next time we will look at the other biggie - anxieties caused in some of us by having to socialise at Christmas.



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