Health & wellbeing

Celebrating Christmas memories

13 Dec 2023 | Written by Susanna Lewis

The Joy Club member and host of our monthly ‘Writing for wellbeing‘ workshops shares her thoughts on Christmas memories. 

Here we are again – approaching Christmas at such a fast rate that the holiday season can feel overwhelming and rushed. However, there is one thing that occurs every year without fail, regardless of how busy we are or how much we try to ignore it – memories! Christmas has the ability to raise powerful memories and emotions within us. 

Often these memories are of Christmases past, of jolly Christmas dinners, fun-filled family games and lazy afternoons laid on the sofa watching ‘White Christmas’ yet again. We look back with fondness at those halcyon days spent with loved ones, amongst oceans of wrapping paper, children’s squeals and sighs when the Christmas tree lights fail like they did last year. 

How many of us have spent breathless moments searching for elusive batteries on Christmas morning, grappling with the biggest turkey ever seen or lamenting the fact that we are too full from the dinner to enjoy the Christmas pudding. Talking of Christmas Pudding, how many of us greedily ate our pudding as children searching for the sixpence that had been hidden within the sticky, gooey dessert that we didn’t really like but was worth eating for the money!

As Christmas Day looms ever closer many of us will remember searching the sky expectantly, looking for clues of an impending snowstorm, eager to see a white Christmas. Walking the streets of our local towns, we are bombarded with twinkling lights, giant reindeer and Bing Crosby crooning in every shop. As we grow older it is easy to understand why some people prefer solitude over the Christmas period. Overwhelmed with the commercialism, they almost switch off from the celebrations and cocoon themselves in a quiet, safe haven. This was certainly true of my own mother, who, in the last few years of her life refused to engage in any family Christmas, preferring instead to stay at home alone.

Of course, Christmas can trigger sad thoughts and can plunge us into a low mood. This is especially true if this Christmas is the first Christmas you will have since the passing of a loved one. Personally, I am experiencing exactly this, as my Mother passed away in 2023 and so it is my first Christmas without her. I know how the ‘first’ of anything since the passing of a loved one has the potential to cause unsettling and emotionally wrought feelings. This sadness is almost like being bereaved again but I think it is really important to acknowledge these feelings and try and find ways to remember our loved ones that are no longer with us. For myself, I have so many wonderful Christmas memories of my Mother over previous Christmas holidays that I am trying to focus on those happy memories to reduce my sadness this year.

Perhaps we should look at Christmas memories as a way of lifting our spirits. Remembering joyous and happy times can help us feel a huge wave of gratitude which in turn can improve our emotional and mental health. Looking back and recalling happy Christmas memories can give us a sense of contentment and wellbeing, like a warm cosy blanket that wraps around us making us feel safe and loved. 

If you feel overwhelmed this Christmas or even feel tired and jaded by it all, why not recall past Christmas memories. Choose memories that make your heart feel warm and grateful for these past experiences. Search out those family photos that make you smile and yes, even the funny ones where your mother dressed you up in ridiculous Christmas outfits. I am speaking from experience here! 

Why not write down some of these wonderful memories in a notebook? Maybe you could get really creative and be inspired to write some poetry of your own personal Christmas memories. Who knows, you may even pass on your written memories to a family member for them and their children and grandchildren to enjoy many years down the line. 

Christmas can raise many uncomfortable feelings, especially as we get older, but we can try and overcome these sad thoughts by focusing on those happy and heart-warming memories. 

Please join me at my Writing for wellbeing Christmas special class on Monday 18th December 2023 at 11am where we will explore Christmas memories using journal prompts and sharing thoughts with each other.

I wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas with my very best wishes for a wonderful 2024.

Susanna x