Not too soon to start talking Christmas Lunch is it, my lovelies? My tree is already up so I reckon it’s fair game.

It’s got political over the years has Christmas Lunch. Who is hosting. Where. What’s to be eaten. Arrival times. Gift expectations. Who is doing the washing up. How soon is it impolite to leave. And I was going to write about that – but then I thought…y’know…you are smart people…you can figure that out. There will be a million bits of advice on how to delegate and bring a plate and whatnot.

Let’s talk about something else that probably won’t be covered: loss at Christmas.

Christmas is generally the most joyful time of year, but for someone going through a hard time it’s hands down the bleakest.

There is something unbelievably emotionally polarising about the festive season. There is nothing like being expected to be happy and jolly to focus the mind on what has been lost.

It is a cruel truth at Yule that for each person bemoaning how many presents they have to buy or wrap, someone else would dearly love to have that special someone to buy for. And, for everyone that loves it – from tinsel to turkey – there is someone who simply can’t wait for it to be over.

Family circumstances change all the time. Death, separation, divorce, estrangement, addiction, depression, emigration. When a season is all about family this can be hard. When you are used to being in the bosom of a family and then find you are suddenly but effectively childless and family-less after drop-off on Christmas Eve, it can be utterly discombobulating, post-divorce. When you are used to Dad cooking his special festive BBQ and he is suddenly not there your whole world is rocked to its core.

If you are in a good place this Christmas then all power to you! Squeeze every ounce of joy from it! But also, take just moment’s pause from the prep. Look up. Listen up. Is there anyone who might benefit from joining you? Someone feeling lonely, displaced, unwelcome? Or is there anyone in your circle you want to check in with and check they are doing okay?

If the thought of Christmas is incredibly confronting for your personal circumstances right now, I’m sorry and I see you. Please don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you. Just because they haven’t offered or haven’t asked you how you are doing does not, repeat NOT, mean they don’t care. Ask for what you need. And, please, accept that hand when it is offered. You are neither a bother or a burden and you are welcome.

We are just at the point now that those who are secretly panicking on the inside about getting through Christmas will really be feeling it, so this week make it your mission to spread a little Christmas cheer ahead of time.

“A rising tide lifts all boats” said J. F. K. The natural joyfulness of the season can lift those who need it most if we all share a little love today.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• https://www.lifeline.org.nz/services/suicide-crisis-helpline
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202