I think I survived Christmas. I mean, my heart is still beating, I am still breathing, so I guess I survived. All of my limbs are still attached, so I guess I’m still in one piece.
Prior to Christmas, there was an onslaught of Christmas survival blogs, especially for single and childless people. Advice abounded, stories were shared, people were encouraged to “look after yourself” over the Christmas and New Year period.
So now I have to ask: Did you survive?
If you are reading this blog, you obviously survived, just like I did. Somehow, we made it through a time of year that can be challenging for those without family and those without children. Somehow, we found a way to cope with “the most wonderful time of the year.” How did we do it?
As I reflect on the Christmas that was, I realise there were three main tricks that helped me to get through:
- I skipped carols. Those of you who are familiar with my blogs will know that I’m a skipper. I have nothing against carols per se; I think they are an important part of community celebration. I think it is beautiful to see children singing about Jesus. Plus fireworks are cool. I just find it too hard these days to watch all the happy families. So I skipped carols. And I feel more sane for it.
- I took the afternoon off. Whenever the holidays got on top of me, or I found I was getting stressed, I would just announce, “I’m going out for the afternoon. Don’t know when I’ll be back. See ya.” Even though I loved spending time with people over Christmas, I found that I needed some time-out every now and again. Giving myself permission to just leave for the afternoon was awesome. It gave me a chance to regroup and recharge, something especially important for an introvert.
- I talked about it. A few people asked me about childlessness over Christmas. I answered them honestly. I told them why I skipped carols. I was frank about finding Christmas harder as life goes on. I talked about sadness. I talked about love. I talked about writing my book on childlessness. I talked about how I’m happy to talk about it.
These tricks have helped other childless people too, these simple decisions to skip carols, take time-out and talk with supportive people. Having said that, I must acknowledge that it can be hard to find support around childlessness. So my tricks may not work for everyone.
Some people find it helpful to be alone over Christmas. Others find they do better when they can be around people. Some like to talk about it; others do not want to speak about it at all. I prefer to be frank with people these days. I’m not saying it is the right approach; I’m saying it is right for me.
This continues to be my journey with childlessness: working out what is right for me. It is a story worth telling, as are all our stories. I hope you are working out what is right for you on your journey of surviving childlessness.
There are probably other things that helped you survive Christmas. So tell me: how did you survive? What got you through? Did you do anything differently this Christmas – and how did it turn out? Share your stories – let’s have a countercultural conversation.