Yep. The grinch has been with me and I'm thinking that if I write some of it down, name it, own it, then maybe I can move on and enjoy myself in the lead up to Christmas. Please feel free to skip this if you've moved past this stage in your preparation for the Christmas. I'm planning to post good things after this.
On Friday morning I had quite a detailed session with my shrink. She said that despite some issues at work and home, I seemed fine. And I said, yes it does look that way, but that's not how I really feel. There have been days when I have struggled to hold it together. Some awful low patches and secret tears. My actor is working really hard and she is very tired and getting a bit shaky. Oh, I am a good deceiver. Anyway, sitting outside last night watching the clouds in the night sky, I came to the conclusion that ever since my manic episode in 2007, Christmas has had an edge for me (and my little family) that is hard to shake. It's like each December, just as the weather heats up, issues from our respective families come out to mingle, play dirty and we both act like crap. I'm calling it the Recurrent Family Christmas Shit Cycle (RFCSC).
Our culture surrounds us with messages that Christmas is fun a time of joy and giving, all pretty and sparkly and beguiling. Despite clear evidence to the contrary. Oh sure, some magazine articles acknowledge the stress of the season, but pretty much the sparkle dominates. My rational side knows that that it's advertising and cultural compulsion and that really, everyone's Christmas truth is bit different. Some years are great and some not so great. And you can get yourself all in a tizz over making it just so and you still don't have much control over whether it will be one of the good ones. Or whether it will be one of the shockers that puts you off Christmas for a long time. Most likely there will be good bits and bad bits and the best bit is lying on the couch on boxing day watching dvds and eating leftovers. So anyway my control freak just goes into overdrive, I find myself wanting to clean compulsively and I don't sleep well and I'm cranky. Which I feel even more sad and guilty about because there is this little five year old who is all about the excitement. Although Grace did say to me the other day that if I bought her a present she didn't like, she wouldn't like me. Oh, the honesty of children. Anyway, it is only eight years since that we started having Christmases with both my mum and my dad and their respective partners. Obviously thinking about three families, mine, his and ours does me in. That's a lot of RFCS.
OK, so on top of the RFCSC, there is work. Each day at work I'm reminded how lucky I am to have a home, a stable family, enough money to live on. Even though by some standards we live on the smell of an oily rag, we really are very lucky and we don't go without. We don't have to decide between paying the bills or buying some Christmas gifts for the child. We have resources and space to make stuff, to generate good things that don't cost very much. I meet lots of people who have a fair degree of anxiety about providing a good Christmas for their kids. The least stressful Christmas at work was the one K Rudd was splashing the cash around. Sure people were cynical and knew the money wouldn't last but it created a whole different vibe. You would think that a country of such vast mineral wealth would provide a public health care system that looks after the sick. And a state education that was so awesome that hardly anyone went private. What a great leveller of opportunity that could be.You would also think that we could have made some progress in dealing with the housing issue by now. But it is worse than ever. I rang a housing service on behalf of a young family who were dependent on the goodwill of friends and had lived in five temporary places in the last two months. The housing worker didn't laugh, but she might has well have. There is simply nowhere to refer people. My job is meant to be all about social inclusion these days but frankly, I think there are whole sections of our society that get a pretty rough deal. Obviously, shiny happy is not for everyone.
Oh, and then there is the stuff about Christmas being women's work and responsibility. I got all bitter and twisted about that at beginning of December and cracked the shits. Now I have to admit we are being much more consultative about gifts and how Christmas will work. G is also being helpful with things like getting ready to put the Christmas tree up and giving me a fair amount of space and time to do some of the things I find difficult - like the Christmas Calendar. That's become a tradition of sorts and I do like it when it's done.
Well. Big sigh. That wasn't as bad as I thought. I actually feel better now. Thank you.