What Christmas means to me

As someone who always struggled to understand what ‘Christmas’ was, I’m hoping that this will be of interest to any and all of those who read this. I found like my unique upbringing tells for a great story. It’s rarely something I talk about, this is a health site after all. The thing is, the last time I shared a story about my childhood it was based on my experience of Halloween (or lack of) and went down really well. I was surprised and overwhelmed by the support on social media and it really made me want to share more stories of my childhood.

Perhaps people are just interested in a unique view? I like to think they come here for my sarcasm and health advice but, eh – can’t win them all!

 

Growing up we never had Christmas or birthday celebrations (or Halloween).

No Presents, No Cards, No family get together’s

The year was just a tracking of time, we had no parties. No bouncy castle, No birthday cake or fancy dress. So, what really was Christmas? It’s something I’m still learning about now.

I spoke briefly in my Halloween post about my brothers and sisters, the youngest 3 of us, being pulled out of school at the start of any celebrations. My mum would speak to the school at the start of the term to find the dates for celebrations in the upcoming months. That way, she was fully prepared to pull us before anything happened, the teachers were kind enough to speak to her if any cards or activities were organised where we could be taken out for just a lesson or two.Growing up in a religious household was always going to mean I would struggle socially but as someone who always struggled to understand what ‘Christmas’ was, I’m hoping that this will be of interest to any and all of those who read this. I found like my unique upbringing tells for a great story. It’s rarely something I talk about, this is a health site after all. The thing is, the …

Most of the time that was the case, we would have English maths and science and then go home early or complete some tasks for the teachers. Photocopying, cutting and pasting work into books or taking down displays. We would leave knowing they were ‘just creating cards’ and as far as we were concerned we weren’t missing much. Until we returned to the classroom and all the children were hyped up from the activity. It always felt like we had just missed the end of a party we hadn’t been invited to, except. We had been.

I think that was perhaps the worst thing about Christmas. The fact that all the other children knew we were missing out on it. They would see us get called out, see us doing other tasks and always ask us why. Every year we would have to explain to the other children why we weren’t ‘allowed’ to do Christmas. Ofcourse- they didn’t understand. but In a way, we didn’t either. We were just children. 

Everything your parents tell you in black and white and always the truth. It felt like a privilege and a honour to know the ‘truth’ about Christmas and the ‘santa secret’ but it felt like a burden too. Not being able to talk to our friends about what they were getting for Christmas and have that social aspect to that time of the year. A lot of bonding between children happens in the first few months of the school year and with Christmas starting happening only less than 12 weeks into the school year.

Talking about Christmas, presents and wish lists was a right-of-passage into the friendship groups of our peers. I adjusted quite well to not talking about it until the season came upon us. At that point, it was just a routine of shaping the conversation to avoid talking about Christmas. Harvest was probably the worst because it wasn’t strictly religious (not how they teach it in schools) so it would be hard for us to explain that we can’t be with our friends for the harvest festivities. In my Halloween post I spoke about the harvest festivities.

School: From my memory I think we were pulled out of school a few days before the start of ‘term’ so just before the harvest celebrations. There must’ve been a few years where we weren’t able to take the time off as I remember my mom outside the classroom door as the other children were lining up for assembly. “Not Amy & Andrew, you’re staying back for this one, we have some activities for you” I remember thinking that we were cool, we didn’t have to sit in boring assembly and even our mom came to see us during school. We would sit in class with colouring pages and listen to the children from across the hall. Singing harvest songs. It felt naughty to listen-in as I knew mom didn’t want us to sing them. 

It felt naughty to listen-in to them singing as I knew mom didn’t want us to sing them or be involved in it. I remember humming ‘Harvest for the world’ on the way home and my mum looked at me to remind me I shouldn’t be. It wasn’t an angry look just a cheeky smile.

Can you imagine how hard that is at Christmas time? As a child? With all the other children constantly singing and humming their Christmas jingles and you not being able to join in?! It was torture!! She was never mad about it, a bit disappointed that we had ‘forgotten’ we weren’t supposed to sing them. It was just so hard. Like having chocolate around the house for 6 weeks and not being able to eat it… all day every day.

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My Christmas day then: We would wake up Christmas morning just like any other, perhaps with a fry up if mom was in the mood to treat us and watch awful tv. It was our family tradition and were happy with it. Sometimes, when we were in our early teens they would buy crackers and we’d wear the hats and tell jokes. Sometimes even have mince pies (not on the day, but in the lead up to it). The only’bad’ thing about the Christmas season was knowing everyone else’s traditions, what they’d be doing and dreading hearing about it. It always dampened the holidays it on the return to school. 

Ever-so-often our parents would get us some presents mid-year or on their anniversaries, perhaps a game or some chocolates. Something small as a gesture and that’s all we needed. Christmas is still relatively new to me, I’ve only really been celebrating it for the past five years. Last year I spoke about What I did over Christmas, Did I stay healthy? It was really a post talking about my lack of routine over Christmas and my want to stay healthy. This year is was pre-Christmas that ruined my health but that’s another story. 

My new Christmas day: Thomas picks me up from my mums house around 11am. We normally dress in silly Christmas jumpers and sparkely hats. We Pick his grandmother up on the way over and spend the morning unwrapping presents and just being together. Normally watching a movie and a very small chrismas dinner (we normally just graze on cakes throughout the day).Needing pudding and a light dinner a bit later, we then spend the day watching tv or playing a board game separately. It’s not a ‘fun’ traditional family routine but it’s just what we do and since I’m still new to it all it feels fine to me! 

 

What was your Christmas like? Did you have any weird traditions?

 

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2 Comments

  1. 5th January 2017 / 2:36 pm

    Amy I was fascinated to read this, I can’t imagine what it must have been like as a child not to celebrate Christmas, or birthdays. It must’ve been so strange, and frustrating too.

  2. 5th January 2017 / 12:44 pm

    Did you ever consider starting a tradition for just you and your family and creaiting an amazing Christmas. Because Life is what we make it, its not our past. As Adults we have the power to change things and live a different life from whet we were conditioned. I hope you consider that this year 🙂

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