Blog Week Five and Christmas
I thought it appropriate to look at christmas this week and the influences it has on me as a man. Its a difficult one this week as I have never been a great fan of Christmas. Im not religeous and I hate the whole pressure of getting the right present for the right person. It always ends up more of a stress for me than a holiday. The only exception from this is my daughter. So perhaps thats where I should start. As I said before im divorced and try to see my daughter as often as possible.
Christmas is one of those times. I could go right back to my choldhood christmas, and perhaps ill take you on a breif travel holiday there as we go through this particular part of the journey, but for now lets look at what christmas means to me as a man and as a father.
Firstly its the obvious feeling I have that I need to provide. This ingrained and often torturous part of me says in plain language that I must provide a gift for my child that makes them happy and keeps the imagined santa clause image alive. Even though shes too old for that now. Now dont call me a grouch, even though i might very well be. The need for people to be happy at christmas is phenomenal and for a father not to be happy, jolly and the antithesis of playfulness leads to a pressure I think that leaves little room for sadness, reflection or reality. You see as a child I had parents that did value christmas, at least the commercial side. I never went to church so that part has always been missing. They always supplied the family with festive cheer, dad would dress as santa clause, which we all knew he did, and come down stairs on christmas morning with our presents. He would laugh with a jolly ho ho ho before handing out our long awaited and anticipated gifts. You see there was a set gender roles as far back as I can remember. Dad was supposed to be holly jolly santa and mum would cook, clean and organise things. Dad was old fashioned and still is. Anyway ive gone back to something I said we would just visit breifly so lets take a trip back to today.
I now feel that I am expected to carry the lantern of drinking a little too much wine, playing santa and making sure that enough is supplied to enjoy everything thats wanted. Granted now with the divorce thats a bit tricky, I cant really cook and the flats not that clean but the pressure to provide for my daughter says that I need to make this place like a winter wonderland of joy. It was a little different when I was together with my ex of course. She would supply the necessary female ingredients that made sure that the remaining gap could be filled with the money I supplied from a very profitable job, the decorations would be the best money could buy and I felt I needed to put the star ontop of the tree. She would cook a great christmas lunch and I would inevitability fall asleep in my chair after a long and exhausting trip around the lounge with my daughter riding my back as if im the number 10 favourite at chepstone. This was managable I think because of the different roles and this seemed to work. But now I think about the gap. What role did I play and what do I need to fill in now?
As I said I dont enjoy christmas but for my daughter I make the effort. It reminds me though of the feelings that I, perhaps not just as a man but certainly has a strong factor, have to push down and ignore. I have to be there for my daughter and be jolly while I really feel very lonley at christmas. Most of my friends are with there family apart from the ones that are also divorced, but even they have seemed to find a way to pass the time without being too glum about it. Maybe its all show and they feel the same as me but im not going to know. We dont really talk about it as men. We might say were a bit down about something but more likley we will make a joke of it or just put it down. Bloody christmas , dont see the point, or one good thing about xmas is that i dont wake up next to my ex, or just tell terrible dad jokes and play the fool. Alcohol suddenly becomes more socially acceptable and this does not help one little bit. Its easy as a man to drink to avoid how you feel. I dont know if its the same for women although i expect it isnt that much different. As a man I can block out how I feel and get a bit drunk. Not too unusual at christmas and also blocking out and pushing down how I feel is what I suspect my dad has done all his life. Growing up I never once heard him say he was struggling with some feeling or other. My daughter , now thats a different thing altogether. As she grows older she does talk to me a bit about how she feels. It amazes ne and intrigues me that she finds it so easy. As a bloke I dont think ive ever had any converstations with my father about how I feel. This does make me think that it would make a good present to recieve that this year. Someone to listen to how I feel. However this blog will have to do and even this has been incredibly hard to write down how I feel as a man and how all sorts of things have influenced my hiding how i feel away, or at least feeling that i need to hide it. Especially at christmas. Dont feel too bad for me though because I can also delve into the stereotypical male pass times at christmas, eat and drink too much, provide too many gifts for my daughter and drown myself in her smile and happiness that her dad has provided at least some christmas cheer.
Ill end this week on that note of indulgence I think and with the expectation and hope that people get what ever they have wanted and asked for this year.
Just to add that it wouldnt be a bad to take a close look at those around you and if there is some thing hidden behind the smile that looks a little darker to offer an ear or a way out of the stereotype that everyone should be happy at christmas. It may just give someone the best gift they have ever recieved- freedom from expectation.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year what ever tier you happen to be in x