Escaping pressures that you don’t have to feel can be real game-changer.
November. Christmas coming around again. And let’s face it, there’s nothing wholly new I can say about it all.
Let’s look at the well-spring for it all (and let’s limit things to just the UK). Yes, we might hold up the religious aspect as a somehow good or valid reason. But while that feels the obvious angle to focus on, even that’s complicated. Which religious strand – after all, there’s not a single, unified Christianity? How dominant does religious adherence need to be to justify the Christmas focus for the whole nation? And so on. The religious make-up of Britain becomes increasingly disparate with every passing year. The number of ‘active’ Christians seems remarkably few.
There’s plenty of data about all this online. Here are a couple of links to start with.
So, instead, let’s limit what we’re thinking about to the commercial side of things. After all, Christmas in Britain is the inevitable occasion when commerce will (try to) dominate.But so, instead, let’s limit what we’re thinking about to the commercial side of things. After all, Christmas in Britain is the inevitable occasion when commerce will (try to) dominate.
It seems questioning this commercial aspect is nothing new either – I read recently that back in the 1890s there were at least some who felt Christmas is forced upon us by shopkeepers and the press.
But let’s not come to a kind of knee-jerk view about the present day. You have to respect commercial realities to some extent. And, of course, trade isn’t inherently a bad thing. In fact the earliest writing we have is trade-related.
These days, a lot of businesses have come to rely on this time of year for a great deal of their business. But taking a step back, reading about it and listening to the conversations of friends, family and acquaintances, it’s clear that for many people something’s gone wrong.
For many, the commercial pressures pile-up and, it can seem, get ever louder. You don’t have to try very hard to hear about people ending up in significant debt as they try to live up to expectations – expectations that are driven by others. The holiday season has to be ‘perfect’, so we’re told, but perfect for whom? And who’s going to make it so?
And aside from the purely financial side of things, we all know that whoever’s in the kitchen will be doing a huge proportion of the work involved. And who’s doing the shopping, putting up the the decorations and everything else? It seems that, too often, there’s little to do with Christmas that’s fair and reasonable. Many of the expectations associated with the season as a whole would be laughable if they didn’t weigh so heavily on so many people.
But if you do take a step back from it all … then what? If you decide to take things into your own hands and do what you want to do, not what you’re told you ought to do, then you can feel you’re under a different kind of pressure. The need to come up with something better than ‘the norm’ can be equally negative.
But there is the option to reject that demand too. Whether at Christmas or any other day of the year, doing what you want to do yourself, for yourself, can bring with it a very real freedom from pressure. You can find that you’re your own person, living a life that suits you. And it’s always worth remembering that no-one’s ever been able to prove we have anything more than one life.
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