Some people adore Christmas. Their entire festive season is like a John Lewis advert in Dolby stereo. It’s all twinkly lights and mulled wine and ho-ho-ho.
And some people don’t.
If you are a ho-ho-ho person and you are already baking the mince pies and dreaming of Uncle Bernie’s face when he opens that perfect pair of socks, then you are golden. (We would like to add: there is nothing better than the perfect pair of socks. They have a bad reputation as a boring present, but if you work with horses like we do, then you can never have enough good socks, and you feel grateful every morning to have warm feet as you go out to smash the ice on the water troughs.)
If you are more of a Scrooge, then you might like a little bit of reassurance.
We think there can be something slightly dictatorial about the holiday spirit. Everyone has to be merry and bright, otherwise they are crashing the party. (Poor old Scrooge had a good reason not to like Christmas: he had a harsh and lonely childhood and a failed engagement, leaving him alone and loveless. No wonder he retreated into a protective bubble of his own. It sometimes seems a little unfair that he is painted as the festive villain, especially as he does find redemption at the end of the story.)
However, you don’t have to be a Scroogish misanthrope to decide that too much sentimental merriment at the back of December does not fill you with joy. At HorseBack, we are huge believers in authenticity. If Christmas is not your thing, then own that feeling and don’t be ashamed of it. Give yourself permission to step away from the holly and the ivy. You have one great superpower, and that is the power to say no. We know one woman who dislikes Christmas so much that she simply doesn’t do it. There are no decorations for her, no tree, no turkey. She gives herself a lovely quiet day on the 25th of December, and does all the things she most enjoys. She’ll take a walk and read a book. There’s a beautiful liberation in that.
It doesn’t have to be a grumpy thing or a rejection of other people’s pleasures. It’s simply a matter of taste, just like some people don’t enjoy going scuba diving or playing Crown Green Bowls. There is no law that says you have to get drunk on cheap sherry and pretend to find the wearing of paper hats delightful.
If people find it hard to understand, you can try explaining, in the most gentle and simple way. Perhaps you are an introvert, who needs peace. Maybe you get overwhelmed by all the wrapping and spending and forced jollity. It could be that you long for the opportunity to step away from the world, and give yourself the gift of silence.
You can, in other words, make your own Christmas, and it doesn’t have to be like the cheesy movies and the story books. You can write your own story, and sign your name with pride. You can be a radical, and break with tradition. You can free yourself from brandy butter and three different kinds of stuffing.
Why not? You have nothing to lose but your chains.