I’ve never been especially good at Christmas, but I think purely by accident this year I stumbled upon a really effective way to go about it and I can hardly wait to do it again next year! It goes something like this:
- Start by pretending that Christmas doesn’t actually exist. This is surprisingly easy for most of the year. Just don’t think or talk about it as much as you can. Don’t try to “get ready” or buy gifts for people in advance. If the topic comes up in conversation blurt out “Oh crap, I just remembered that I have an urgent and very private matter I must attend to immediately,” and then run off like your going to “deal with it”.
- As Christmas day draws near it will gradually get more and more difficult to ignore it. When that happens it’s actually better to “go with the flow” and act like you’re really good at it and really looking forward to the big day. Be careful not to lie outright and tell people that you’ve bought some gifts for people, but if anybody asks you can put a sneaky look on your face like you’ve been building a secret gift-cache all along and that the intended recipients are going to feel just thrilled when they see what they’re getting.
- During this immediate pre-Christmas phase, you may receive invitations to visit relatives, friends, etc. on either Christmas itself, or maybe Christmas Eve. ALWAYS ACCEPT THESE INVITATIONS CHEERFULLY AND WITH GUSTO. Be sure to ask if there’s anything you can bring. All this enthusiasm is crucial because you don’t want give anybody reason to doubt what happens next.
- The day before Christmas — so-called “Christmas Eve” — suddenly fall into a deep depression. Now, if you’re like me, you won’t have to fake this because the very thought of having to spend hours and hours making small talk and probably even arguing with other human beings while having exactly zero gifts to offer them while they’re all exchanging gifts with each other and probably offering gifts to me as well tends to hit me like rhinoceros tranquilizer. For example, Christmas morning this year I had a very hard time crawling out of bed and the thought of talking to or seeing anyone that day left me quite speechless and blind (in a manner of speaking).
- Allow your depression to block you from calling or otherwise reaching out to anybody, but when they eventually contact you, be sure to respond but sound lethargic and gloomy when you talk. Explain that you’ve never understood Christmas or how to do it right and that you feel overwhelmed and depressed and just need to be alone. If they ask if you have thoughts of harming yourself reassure them that you don’t and that you’ll feel better once the whole Christmas thing has blown over.
- After hanging up, rejoice in your release from your Christmas hassles and spend the day studying Spanish, or doing whatever else you’re into.
Hope that’s useful! 🙂
Disclaimer: although in the above I try to use humor to address what I see as the very real problem of Christmas, the sober fact is that depression and especially suicide are no joke, so if you think you are having a psychiatric crisis and especially if you have thoughts of harming yourself please seek medical attention immediately. You may wish to start with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can call them at any time 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 to speak with a counselor.
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