The twinkling lights, the Christmas tree, the excitement of children, not forgetting of course the presents… Christmas is a time of the year when smiling becomes de rigueur and worrying is put on ice.
And yet, sometimes there are good reasons for steering clear of Christmas cheer! You need simply take note of the huge number of forums dedicated to the winter-blues or carry out a little survey with friends.
The festive period can be a source of severe anxiety, especially when 'making the right impression' often means compromise and pressure. From a commercial point of view, Christmas can quickly become a Chinese puzzle. Organising meals, buying presents during a time of year when spending power becomes a major headache… it’s a real chore!
On the other hand, from the traditional point of view, Christmas means family, and yet for some, this can mean badly timed family reunions following the loss of a loved one.
Sometimes, the spirit of Christmas remains attached to an unwavering religious tradition. But we cannot deny that the marketing aspect is definitely King these days. Invitations to spend money are found on every street corner, in every magazine… a real manifesto for spending! For the German writer, Andreas Meier, we need to 'bring back the Christian meaning of Christmas, thereby affording it less importance. We need to maintain a certain distance from the religious aspect, like we do during the rest of the year.'
'Personally, I don’t attach any importance to any festive period, and that works fine for me,' says one forum entry. Ever since Christmas started playing a role in our culture, it has been difficult to get to grips with all the different aspects and memories of it: the thousands of games played, the decorated Christmas tree, Father Christmas and his sleigh flying across the skies… 'Christmas has lost some of its charm, and that makes me sad. It makes me remember my childhood and the amazing Christmases we spent together as a family,' writes another young girl.
This pressure to be happy can lead however to depression. The Samaritans, a telephone counseling service in the UK, takes the festive period at the end of the year very seriously, with a call every 6 seconds. According to their experience, if feelings of happiness and well-being are given to increase during this period, so are feelings of depression and being-down. Dominic Rudd, vice-president of the Samaritans, adds that 'nobody can escape feelings of loneliness. We can be surrounded by family and friends and still experience the need to talk to someone who doesn’t know us.'