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2008 Christmas

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    I feel this post is as relevant today as it was when I wrote it 4 years ago.  I have been trying to write something new but struggling a bit with time.
    Christmas is being mentioned on many threads and I wondered if we could put the collective heads of the Forum together and see how we can make this Christmas as stress-free as possible with stories, memories, advice and support.
    We cannot put our heads into the minds of the CG at this time but we can put together what we think might help us. It is my belief that most, if not all CGs do not enjoy Christmas. It is a gathering together of family and friends. Expectations of good behaviour are too high for the CG. Expectations for getting everything perfect are too high for us.
    Christmas is a time when it has become the practice for presents to be given in abundance and the CG, if he has any money left, will not want to part with it because it is all important for the winning gamble.
    It is a time when the CG is asked to append his name to the Christmas cards that he has not bought, to send to people he believes think him worthless.
    It is a time when the joy that he is being told he should be feeling just does not happen.
    It is a time when the whole world seems to be full of love but the CG is lost in his own despair.
    How does a CG get round these feelings? No money to spare for presents, a desire to be away gambling and not sitting with the family? In a nutshell – he lies believing it to be his only option.
    It becomes a vicious circle played out every year with each successive year adding to the whole sorry state of affairs. All the memories of other Christmas’ come flooding back and the impossible situations arise more seriously as the years pass.
    The best action for a CG is to cause a row and get out before great Aunt Mabel comes round and tells him that he is a disgrace, or before Uncle Paul gets the chance to refuse to come because he stole Auntie Polly’s credit card 2 years ago and she can see through him if nobody else can! How the non-CG wishes they would just keep their opinions to themselves just for one day.
    If this forum is anything to go by the non CGs puts others first and want to protect everybody from everybody, usually at their own expense.
    They are desperately running around to please everybody like creatures possessed. Trying to do be all things to all people. Hoping to make everything so perfect that nobody notices the loved CG glowering away in the corner.
    The only thing the non-CG wants is for everybody to gather round the table, put past memories aside and have a wonderful day together.
    The non-CG pleads ‘please make an effort just for one day, just for me, just for John and Mary’ and can’t understand why the CG cannot understand the words. The CG only hears he is being called useless and everybody would be better off without him.
    Stress is at an all-time high, the smile is fixed with gritted teeth, the eyes are watery and no make up can disguise them but nobody notices because everybody is doing their own thing.
    Somebody will eventually mention Auntie Polly’s credit card. Somebody will mention how tired the non-CG looks with pointed looks at the CG. Somebody will mention the lottery and get the cards out for a nice game of brag!!
    There will of course be those wonderful creatures – the in-laws, siblings, friends all in denial. Kissing and cuddling and telling everybody what a success the CG is making of his job and how much the children love him and hasn’t he peeled the carrots well! The non-CG leaves the room and tries to control the tears.
    If the CG manages to stay for part of the day his departure will be felt with pain from the non-CG, whilst the ones in denial splutter through foggy, alcoholic vapours ‘oh let him go he deserves it’. Not forgetting Aunt Mabel who now declares loudly ‘good riddance.
    How the memories of Christmas’ past come back to haunt. How many people say they do not like Christmas before it even arrives? How many of you are thinking about last Christmas and what happened when …..? How many of you are hoping this Christmas will be better but not really believing it? How many of you are putting off decisions till after Christmas for the sake of other people?
    I am grinding no axe with this. I am hoping that perhaps we can give each other words of comfort and support and ways to get round the inevitable stand-off.
    Knowing as we do now that compulsive gambling is an illness would it not be better not to force issues such as saying‘you will be there for Jack and Jill’? Isn’t it better to say Jack and Jill would like you there and so would I but make no big deal as the door closes behind him on his way out?
    How do you deal with Uncle Fred who thinks you need protecting and says ‘if you wont say anything then by gum I will?’ My initial thought is not to invite Uncle Fred.
    Should you get on and just do the dinner, the cards etc and expect no help? Is this the best way to get the Christmas we all yearn for?
    This is just me having another wonder. It is to try and help and not to point any fingers. It is not to do with ‘me’. It is to do with this Christmas and New Year and Birthdays and Anniversaries and all the other times when it is expected that families conform to a happy, carefree existence.
    It is an invitation to share and benefit from each other. Perhaps to get fears out in the open and past worries aired.
    I know we cannot guarantee each other a wonderful Christmas but it would be nice if we could make a difference for our own sakes and for our CGs.
    Velvet xx

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