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BEL MONEY: HI just can’t handle Christmas this year

I just can’t handle Christmas this year

Dear Bell,

I know this is a bit premature, but my concerns are mounting. My problem is. . . Christmas.

I love gift giving and around this time (and even earlier last year due to the pandemic) I usually buy online for a lot of gifts. But unfortunately I just don’t feel like shopping this year. And I don’t understand the reason.

I have a childlike love of the season, believing in miracles, the magic, the love and joy of it all. Yes, I realize I’m a dreamer, but I can’t help it.

I believe in God and in the birth of Jesus and why we (the whole point of Christmas) celebrate the baby in the manger.

But so many times, when the season is over, I can’t lift myself and I just feel flat.

I never budget on gifts and buy what I think that particular person would want. But so many times I end up disappointed by the response.

When I was young, my dear mother had sole responsibility for Christmas, as my father usually spent all day in bed, while mother waited for him hand and foot and looked after two children.

It must have been such a stressful time for her, but as a child I would not have known that.

This year at Christmas I will have turned 72 and I really want to learn to relax more, not expect too much and try to avoid getting depressed afterwards.

I’m lucky enough to have family and friends, so I count my blessings.

It’s just that I dread Christmas and it makes me sad and I wonder if you can apply your wisdom and understanding to my strange problem.


This is one of those nagging little issues that many people will consider trivial, but can cause a downpour.

Such feelings, especially as we get older, can leave us with a constant longing for what we know that can never be fulfilled.

How many people look in the mirror and realize that this life is not what they hoped for?

I’m not talking about obvious unhappiness – one of the many tensions that plague our lives, from marital to family problems, money worries, disappointment at work, and disillusionment with friendships. Those are all recurring staples of this column.

No, your simple email opens another door of misery that is hard to define.

To be quite honest, when you say you’re “very eager to learn to relax more, not expect too much and try not to get depressed afterwards,” then you could be talking about me. Maybe we can learn from each other.

More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail…

There is a discrepancy between the magic of Christmas that so many of us imagined as children and the reality your mother experiences.

On one side there are stars, lights, angels, Santa Claus, baby Jesus (plus sages, shepherds and animals), adored carols and the stockings at the end of the bed. Oh joy!

On the other hand, there’s shopping, packing, labeling, shopping more (this time for food), timing the meal, washing dishes, and so on and so forth. Every year. Christmas is joy and rut at the same time and after 43 years of cooking turkeys I have no idea how to change things. If I really want to.

You mention buying presents first – so that’s the place to start. Why not be disciplined and set yourself a budget this year, maybe decide that one or two on your list can just have a card instead of a gift?

We tend to overspend, so this year would be a great time to change the habit. If you give someone a fancy gift and they don’t respond the way you’d like, you’re exposing yourself to disappointment. If you give a ‘token’ (look at the beautiful pamphlets of poems, mostly lighthearted, published by Candlestick Press), you will find that your burden is lighter.

Please don’t be afraid of the Christmas time because you have a good idea about it. Always remember those beautiful angels who bring “tidings of great joy” and don’t let them fly out of your mind.

And finally… A candle can help banish evil

When something terrible happens, I usually receive haunted emails from readers and friends, expressing sadness at the state of the world.

There are times when I share that despair. Watching television footage of the tearful widow of Sir David Amess visiting the scene of his despicable murder with other devastated relatives was one such moment.

Shock and disbelief can quickly turn into a universal pessimism that overwhelms – like a suffocating black cloth over your face.

Contact Bel

Bel answers readers’ questions about emotional and relationship issues on a weekly basis.

Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or email bel.mooney@dailymail.co.uk.

If desired, a pseudonym is used.

Bel reads all the letters, but regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

The world is full of hate – from the detestable language used by a politician like Angela Rayner, to the horrific abuse expressed on social media, to the kind of twisted extremism that sees slaughter as ‘just’.

In those moments I also conclude that Good is in terminal retreat, while triumphant Evil haunts this earth. Yet it is not the truth. We would all go crazy if we said goodbye to hope – and unfortunately some people succumb to utter despair.

I have read many letters to this column that I file under “anxiety” – meaning “a feeling of deep fear or anxiety, typically an unfocused feeling about the human condition or the state of the world in general.”

How to fight it? By imagining the transformative effect of a single candle in a darkened room and consciously lighting one in your mind.

Really visualize that action, just before you decide what the light represents.

So I think of the wonder on the faces of parents as they cradle their newborn, the uplifting videos I watch online that show human kindness. And so on – too many to list.

Now I meditate on the outpouring of respect, gratitude and love for Sir David Amess abroad in the country.

I focus on every flower laid where its good life ended – and realize that every bloom (and every tear) represents something indestructible good.

Oh, and isn’t all that much greater than the single horrific act of hatred that cost him his life? It always will.