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Social Pressures Surrounding Christmas

Christmas is a time of the year that is filled with family, festivities and fun. It’s supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year, however for some it can be the worst. You may think I’m a scrooge after reading this, but I think it’s really important to acknowledge that Christmas is a major struggle for lots of people that brings lots of social pressures.

The radio is full of music encouraging you to be joyful and spend time with your family, advertising and stores are full of expensive items to give, and grocery stores put out enormous turkeys to feed twelve people. What about people that don’t have a family to spend it with? The parents that can’t afford the gifts? The table with only one mouth to feed?

We live in a society where everything has become extremely commercialised and the emphasis over having a big expensive Christmas is extremely overwhelming.

It’s a time that for some can trigger lots of anxiety, attending big events whether it be family or friends. The stress of answering questions you may not feel ready to face, such as ‘How’s the dating scene going?’ ‘Are you seeing anyone yet?’ or ‘What are your plans for the future?’. Family parties that come with dreaded questions or taunting can be a huge contributor to anxiety for many. On the other hand, for the people that spend Christmas alone or may be experiencing grief it can be tremendously difficult to get through the season.

Finally, Christmas brings financial pressures that for some is unbearable and can lead to debt. The cost of food and gifts is not something that everyone can afford; parents feel obligated to give their children the best they can, partners feel obligated to outdo last year’s gifts, and friends can’t pick who to buy and not buy gifts for. It compels a lot of people to buy gifts they can’t afford, but the debt is preferable to the label or disappointment they could receive if they don’t. So please be kind this season because it will be the hardest time of the year for some.

Here are a few things that you can do this year to tackle some of these pressures.

Feeling anxious? Take a deep breath before entering social events and maybe even prepare a few answers to questions you may get asked, and remember its ok to simply say sorry I don’t feel comfortable answering that question, you are in charge of what you have to answer.

Alone this Christmas? Have a look at your local shelter, they are always in need of people to help serve Christmas dinner, go for the day help give out dinner and surround yourself with others that may be in a similar situation to you. On the other hand, if you have a large family meal planned, make sure your friends and neighbours aren’t alone and offer to take them food or even invite them over if you feel comfortable doing so.

Finally, financially: a gift is whatever you want it to be, a gift could be spending the day with someone and helping them out with needs, a gift could be a homemade cake or a handmade card. It’s difficult in a pressured society but spending 100s doesn’t make it a valuable gift!

I’m sending love and blessings wherever you are this Christmas.

Caitlin Sweeney

Nottingham '23

A lover of Wilde and Shelley, and a guilty pleasure for 80s music. I believe chocolate and tea can solve 98% of my problems, I am always up for new challenges and learning new things !
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