Yes, Christmas Island was discovered in 1722…on Christmas Eve. We tend to remember things that happen on or around Christmas. Not only Christians do this. I remember my Jewish friends in school looking forward to Christmas vacation for different reasons than their Christian friends. But it was anticipated all the same.
Christmas is likely the one day of the year when the majority of folks, at least in the U.S., raise their awareness a bit. We look forward to Christmas and then when it comes we savor the moments of the day. This locks in both good and bad memories. When our awareness is heightened we are more likely to remember things whether they are good or bad.
This leaves many people with an abundance of great memories. But it also can leave some with an abundance of very difficult Christmas memories. Those who faced abuse as children, the death of a family member, or serious illnesses may have some pretty tough memories of Christmas Day, memories that are locked in. This can create a scenario where the day becomes dreaded rather than adored. This is compounded by the depressing sense of seeing everyone around you celebrating and making merry while you struggle with the old memories. Ugh.
If you are one of those folks who have some tough memories around Christmas here are a couple of ideas for you. 1. Let others know at least a little of your struggles. Sometimes a compassionate ear can quiet things down a bit. 2. Set aside a certain amount of time to remember those old crappy memories in their fullest, let them in and all of the associated memories. Then, 3. Cut them off, tell them that their time is up and you get to spend some time enjoying Christmas. 4. Do something different. Whatever you usually don’t do on Christmas, do it this time. Maybe go out to eat, maybe Chinese! Maybe a movie. Either of those will help you focus on the day and your enjoyment and may give you a bit of a break from the old memories. 5. Exercise! There are very few things that can blot out old crappy thoughts like a good workout. Plus, it makes you physically feel better and shoots off your endorphins.
Feel good! Merry Christmas!
Tom Golden is the author or three books, Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, The Way Men Heal, and Helping Mothers be Closer to Their Sons: UnderStanding the Unique World of Boys. Tom was the creator of the youtube channel Men Are Good and served as the vice chairman of the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health. He has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years.