Christmas is all about the kids isn’t it? But what if you cannot be with the children on this special day because you are separated from their Mum or Dad and this is not your year? You do what you can to make it ok for the children not to be with you but how do you make it ok for you?
First thing. Get your head into the right space. If you focus on what you are missing it is going to affect everything that then happens. Instead focus on what you are going to do with the children when you do spend time with them. Young children are particularly delightful in anticipation of Christmas. When you see them before Christmas this is the time to create your place in their Christmas experience. Can you arrange an event like a pantomime or cinema or visit to Santa, home for a favourite meal then a cosy up on the sofa watching a Christmas DVD that becomes your Christmas classic? If the children are older keep to the combination of seeing the lights/feeling the cold and then returning home to twinkling lights and warmth (duvets on settees if necessary!).
Keep off your phone and tablet/computer and they might do the same? Get a new game each year – make it a family competition to buy the most bizarre one from a charity shop and play each one in turn. Trust me you would not believe the games that have been put into production and are waiting for you at the Charity shop. Go shopping for them together. As Aunty to some pretty brilliant kids I used to take them to Hamley’s for the day. We would start at the top and work slowly (very slowly) down each floor. At the end – many hours later – they would choose the best toys. Ridiculous money, sensible money and cheap. There is an age range this works for - the age where they still delight in seeing the shiny stuff but understand window shopping. This worked for three years and it is still talked about as our tradition. Remember this is not about the money – be generous with your time and children will respond.
With your Christmas with the children set up as something you will all cherish and want to repeat next year how are you going to cope with the Christmas that falls on the 25th December?
Perhaps thinking about what the reality of Christmas is for most people? A load of relatives you don’t usually see (for a reason) - add alcohol and stand back! But that is rather negative isn’t it?
First possible strategy - if you can usually put together a good time with your mates/family why not try to do that for Christmas? Don’t let your mind play games with you. If you usually have fun then what is stopping you now? Once you have identified the people you are going to be spending time with you need to decide are you going to do the whole Christmas thing or an antidote Christmas thing? A good time might not be the most wonderful Christmas but it is still a good time.
Second strategy - Voluntary work. In fact you might find it difficult to find a vacancy because there are so many people who are in the same situation or want to balance the over indulgence the charities are inundated. Do you know someone closer to home who might like company? Make it someone who will help you keep your mind working positively. Doing good things for others makes you feel good - and possibly helps you appreciate what you have.
Third strategy - Chris Evans told everyone on his Breakfast show how he spent one Christmas on his own. He said he had a new car and drove through London when the roads were quiet and then went home and tidied his flat. He said it was “alright”. Would he do it again? No. But he said it was ok. How many times do you wish for more time to do fun indulgent things that you cannot find time for? Make a plan which includes good music, good food and/or a box set and make this the time.
If you are not able to see your children at all over the period this is really hard to deal with. I hope that next year brings about a change in that situation and if you need to talk that through with us we are here.