Christmas: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”. This statement from the iconic Christmas tune by Andy Williams, in itself, can be quite a complicated concept.
The image of Christmas, let’s be honest is an incredibly optimistic one. Everywhere we look it’s portrayed as being cheerful, with tasteful decorations all round, splendid meals and a loving family gathered for picture-postcard perfection.
Christmas: a time for joy, a time for pain.
Sadly life is not that simple and human relationships are complex. Yet we still expect the festive season to be this picture perfect moment. These expectations can cause a tremendous amount of stress. Not only do you need the finances to afford the gifts, decorations and food, etc. But in what is often overlooked is the countless hours of planning, decorating and even slaved behind the stove .
This pressure to conform to the ideal Christmas even reaches into our relationships. It can be stressful to spend the day pretending there’s no feuds or disagreements in the family. While the intentions behind this falsity is born out of love, this forced happiness can still be rather draining.
As stressful as it may be, we’re still so fortunate if we are at least part of a family willing to try and pretend. This is not the case for all and as many of us can relate; not everybody is all that accepting when we eventually decide to come out. For some of us the rejection and fear based bigotry is far more real, and from people supposed to love unconditionally. Christmas can then be an incredibly lonely and depressing time for LGBTQ members who find themselves alienated by their families. For them the festive season is just a painful reminder of the rejection and what no longer is.
If you find the festive season to be taxing on your emotional health there are several things you can do to find relief. According to Mentalhealth.org you can try re-framing the situation, setting boundaries, and what is probably most important; Caring for others will make you feel good.
The Rainbow cards project
Here is one way we can care for our LGBTQ family this Festive season. The Rainbow cards project is a small grassroots imitative, with a simple yet beautiful aim: to send cards to those whose families don’t send them cards.
When talking about the recipients, founder El says; ‘These people are often ostracised and outcast by their family, and not receiving a card on their birthday or during the holidays can be a very clear and upsetting statement of rejection, especially during these times that are supposed to be so full of love.’
So dear reader I fully intend on participating in spreading the message of love this season, and so can you. If the rainbow project seems like the right vehicle for you, then check out their website for more details.