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  • Writer's pictureRachel Chan


Every year, I seem to hear at least once that Christmas is all about the children. Although I don’t hold that view myself, as someone living childless not by choice, those words can sting. For a season that’s marketed in the commercial world as the most wonderful time of the year, it’s no secret that many difficulties faced year-round can become worse at Christmas time. For me, it’s not just the constant barrage of seemingly perfect parent-child photos on social media, or the added names on Christmas cards each year that serve as reminders of a life I’m nothing to do with. It’s also the dread of getting to another year end still childless, and once again spending the next year hoping against all the odds that this one could be the one where our dreams become a reality.

Part of this reflective mood no doubt stems from my all too brief experiences of being a mother. For both of the pregnancies I miscarried, the due dates would have been somewhere around Christmas time, and I’ve found that the worst emotional pain has come a few weeks before those now redundant dates on the calendar, the most recent being this November. At least this time round I was able to anticipate and brace for it, but to my surprise, it turned out to be just as bad as the first time. In the midst of anxiety and depression, it can be difficult to sit with those moments of despair, for fear of where they may lead, especially when it feels like everyone else is having fun. As time has gone on and I’ve started to feel better, I’ve been able to let myself grieve, and as a result have felt better for it.

Having spent the past eight years trying to have children, the journey to peace at Christmas has been rocky, at best. The early years of Christmas living childless not by choice were tricky. The urge to lock myself away and spend the whole festive season crying over sentimental Christmas films accompanied by a huge tin of chocolates, was strong. To counter this, I tried hosting for a while. I put all of my unused nurturing energy into preparing food and welcoming guests. In the end, I found I was just alienating my extended family by forcing them into an ideal they didn’t want, and into dreams they didn’t share.

While my strategies for dealing with the lows could be classed as avoidant at best, my strategy for keeping positive, I feel is a healthy one. I don’t believe the sad moments in my life have been any more than my fair share, in all likelihood they’re considerably less. Nevertheless, they’ve certainly had a huge effect. On the flip side of that, I’ve also experienced so many joyful moments and I’m a great believer in finding as much joy as you can in the simple things in life. Whether it’s a special moment at a friend’s wedding, a funny mishap, or the firsts our dog went through as a puppy, it’s the memories of those moments that get me through. I always put time aside to enjoy thinking about them, whenever they pop into my mind.

In addition to that, like millions of others all over the world, Christmas for me has a deeper spiritual meaning than snowmen, trees, and bearded blokes in red suits. For this reason, I choose to focus my Christmas time around musical endeavours, usually choral. I realise this may not be appealing to everyone, but there’s something about music that throws open those opportunities for fantastically joyful moments and memories.

Is it too much to hope for constant joy? Yes, I think so. I don’t believe it’s attainable for anyone, at any time of year, or even that it’s good for us. But in my view, joy and also Christmas, are for everyone.

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Dec 01, 2020

What a moving an honest reflection on such challenging moments. You’re incredibly brave and wonderful x

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