Mange har det svært med julen og dens sociale forventninger. I år behøver vi, der tilhører denne gruppe, ikke føle os kejtede, akavede og til overs.
This year, Christmas will be easier for those of us who have a hard time with family gatherings
Many people have a hard time with Christmas and its social expectations. This year, we who belong to this group do not have to feel awkward, awkward and left out.
After a mildly tumultuous, anxiety-provoking year, many are longing to be with their families at Christmas. This blog is not aimed at them, but at all of us who every year have a hard time with Christmas and all its expectations of traditions and how the togetherness with the family “should” feel.
Many families choose this year to celebrate Christmas alone or with fewer family members and without the characteristic family Christmas lunches during the Christmas days to avoid crossing bacilli from one branch of the family to another.
But as my matter-of-fact grandmother would say, “Nothing is so bad, it’s not good for anything.”
I am always challenged when the Christmas season begins. I did not grow up in a family that celebrated Christmas – I never learned to bake Christmas cookies or to make a Christmas decoration at school. We children of Jehovah’s Witnesses simply did not have to. I do not have a bag full of traditions that I can pull off when I try to make fun.
I love the idea of Christmas. The heat from the oven, where the cookies have just lain and now fills the kitchen with its spicy scent, the decorated wood with the gifts underneath, the joy in the kids’ eyes, endless days of mulled wine and apple slices, cut-and-paste experiences around the table with peppercorns. This is how reality never shapes itself, but the idea is beautiful.
When I met my husband and he invited me to his parents’ house to celebrate Christmas, I was elated. Now I finally had to celebrate family Christmas, exactly as I had dreamed of since my last Christmas as an eight-year-old.
That, of course, was not the case. I felt completely wrong, had a hard time finding my place in the family puzzle. I felt awkward, the conversations were foreign, and the dynamics established through generations. I ended up running up to the room my boyfriend and I shared, and roaring. Meanwhile, the family sat gaping on the couch and did not understand why I reacted as I did.
Christmas is hard; we would like to, but all sorts of old luggage comes in, which makes it difficult.
Like me, many this year can do things exactly as they see fit without stress and pressure. It might be a little difficult at first; it’s all beginning. But when one breaks with consensus, then a feeling of freedom arises.
Even though the Danes have not themselves chosen the situation that many families are in this Christmas, it may lead to a form of freedom. Suddenly there are no expectations, no “right” way to do anything that has to do with Christmas.
Christmas is filled with great emotions at each end of the social spectrum. To some extent, some people need to see the family and be with loved ones who know and embrace them. Some have lost a husband, a child or a close family member. Some have divorced and now need to figure out what Christmas should look like in the future. Some live far away from what they grew up with and need to feel a sense of belonging in a familiar, safe, family environment.
Others have a hard time with all the socializing and really want to have fun with their partner and any children without going and flying around to families on one side of the family. Some people have a hard time with Christmas for completely different reasons.
But we are not talking about it. There must be something wrong with one, if one of all the holidays can not enjoy Christmas and being with the family. Still, I would argue that many feel wronged and lonely right there in the middle of the in-laws’ lap around the coffee table with brownies.
This is so difficult to talk about because there is an implicit distance to those you should have the most fun with. How do you put it into words without hurting and without expressing your feelings in a way that makes you appear like the strangest antisocial fish?
It is not the fault of others, and certainly not my in-laws, that I get weird when the family gathers, and there is everything in the air that I can not figure out to decode.
At the same time, I refuse to be her the weird one, simply because I dare put into words what I from countless conversations with friends and acquaintances know are feelings I am not alone in having.
This year I think there are many, whether they dare say it out loud or not, who feel some relief over not having to spend most of two weeks tying themselves up, danger and whistling around to one family party after another and sitting at a Christmas-covered table and not knowing how to fit into the company while the exhaustion, irritation and feeling of inadequacy sets in.