Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan.

Auntie Says: Sometimes Christmas sucks

Sometimes you have to remember that it’s not an easy time for everyone

So, the cat peed in the Poinsettia, the dog scarfed down the turkey, you couldn’t find any Fingerlings, and oh heaven forbid if the tree is not symmetrical and even.

It really (yes, really!), is OK.

All around there’s bright lights, perky elves and lots of good cheer, but sometimes you have to remember that it’s not an easy time for everyone. Christmas is one of those times of year when you think everything has to be perfect and easily forget about the reality of what’s going on around you.

We’re all fed a scintillating anticipation of the fantasy of what Christmas is, or should be. You do the advent calendars, or the count downs to the ‘big’ day, only to have it arrive and fizzle. By the time the countdown is finished, you’re exhausted and done. People argue, some are undergoing medical treatments, many have to work (thank you police, fire, hospitals, first responders), and some are just mentally checked out.

I love Christmas, but it hasn’t always been that way. A few years back, my younger brother, (Gordon aged 32), had a sudden massive heart attack on Christmas Day. He died on Boxing Day. Needless to say, it was the Christmas from hell. For many years after, my Christmas’ were defined by that tragic memory and it took a long time to find a way to reconcile the loss. I had to redefine what the holidays are all about for me and make choices about the entire season.

Here’s some Auntie tips to help keep yourself on track for the holiday season.

Let the concept of “perfect” go and don’t compare yourself to others. You know what I mean, I know you do. The tree needs to be just so, the food tasty and rich, and the gatherings all laughter and smiles. I’m telling you that it’s all a rouse and big commercial hype because someone will always do it better. Carve out your own traditions this year and try to make it something quirky. Use your imagination and have fun. It’s about building memories, not about outdoing the neighbours, having matching sweaters, being 10 pounds lighter, perfect wrapping — you get it — let it go.

Know, and remember, that gatherings with family can be stressful. Just because it’s a certain date doesn’t mean that all past transgressions are forgiven or forgotten. Little friendly digs between family members can really set the stage for trouble, especially if alcohol, stress, fatigue and a sense of obligation (aka: I don’t want to be here) are involved. Make sure you go in with a plan. Keep yourself busy. Know how to deflect. Me — I used to always go to where the little kids were. My nieces and nephews were always more fun than the adults. I come from a large family so Christmas dinner meant 40 plus people — it could get hot and stuffy real quick — bring clothes so you can take a nice walk in the cool air, it does wonders.

Try and stay out of debt. This could be a hard one for some as the season is dictated by the commercial steam-train and especially where there are children it’s hard not to give in. I totally get it. I vividly remember being about nine years old and in my stocking I got a scarf and tam. I was thoroughly disappointed and disgusted. I can still picture it today, but I also got over it, and somehow survived.

If you know of someone who’s alone, or maybe going through a divorce, an illness, or elderly, invite them over. Usually there’s plenty of food and bringing in a stranger can stimulate the conversation and at the same time give back.

Try — just make an effort — to not over indulge. Whether it be food, drink, marijuana — just take it easy and remember you don’t have to pack it all into that one day.

Merry Christmas.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Contact her at faye.arcand@icloud.com or www.fayeearcand.com.

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