As we enter the holiday period, we are often inundated with marketing imagery showing happy families celebrating together and children opening an extravagant number of gifts.
This made me reflect on a Christmas Day two years ago that introduced me to the shadow side of the holiday season. I have a great relationship with my children’s mother; although we have not been together for a long time, we co-parent effectively and have always had our children’s best interests at the forefront of our planning and decision making. On this occasion, it was my ex-partner’s turn to have our kids for Christmas Day, so after a frantic opening of presents on Christmas morning, I found myself in an empty house before lunchtime, my Christmas effectively over after month’s of build up.
This was perhaps the loneliest day that I have ever gone through. Now, this feeling only lasted a few hours, but it allowed me to reflect on what it must be like for many people who go through this every year. They may be feeling social pressure to buy gifts they can’t afford or isolated because they can’t spend the holiday season with their children or other family members.
It brought to mind the Christmas table card from Shadows, a resource that I’ve always had an affinity with. This card shows an empty table with a setting for one laid out ready for Christmas Day. One of the reasons that the Shadows card set is my all-time favourite resource is that many of the cards depict scenes that resonate with me—they are scenes from my own life. I often use Shadows as a reflective tool as the images closely align with my reality.
For some people, Christmas can be filled with stress and anxiety instead of joy and happiness. At this time of year, or during any holiday period, it is important to be mindful of people in the community who might be on their own or who don’t have the means to live up to the pressures society places on them. In some situations, giving someone your time, your attention and your good will may not only improve a person’s life, but may even save it.
Compassion speaks all languages, is found in all religions and is completely free of charge.
-Chris Cain, Production and Marketing Manager, St Luke’s Innovative Resources