Why I love Christmas

For anyone who knows me, or follows me on Twitter you may be aware that (while I am struggling this year and things are getting a little on top of me) I do LOVE Christmas!

I am so lucky that I have so many amazing Christmas memories that I have made over the years.

Coming from a ‘cereal packet’ family, I had some great childhood Christmases – writing letters to Father Christmas (based on the list from the Argos catalogue), visiting Father Christmas in his Grotto, hanging stockings, leaving out a mince pie and sherry, Christmas Dinner with the family… I feel blessed to have been able to have experienced such Traditional, Family Orientated Christmases.

Not only was I given the Traditional Family Christmas, but my Brother and I were truly spoilt by my parents, as well as the rest of family and friends. We were never left disappointed or wanting for anything.

Now, that isn’t to say that every Christmas has been easy. One year for instance, brought us a festive period which impacted me in ways I am still dealing with, and would have been enough to spoil Christmas for the rest of time, but my parents made the best of it for us. Christmas can be hard at times… for a post about loss and Christmas time click here.

christmas

So why is it that I love Christmas so much?

  • I enjoy the build-up – the anticipation of what the season will bring. For those lucky enough to have time off with their families over Christmas, it is so lovely to have the time off to look forward to at the end of the year
  • The music!! I can’t help it! I just love the music – from the Christmas carols, to the classics and the novelty Christmas songs… I love it all! I love the nostalgia it brings and my mood can be influenced by music so I find it is good for me! I love walking around the shops doing my Christmas shopping when the Christmas music is on (I have to admit though I have to go early morning to do my shopping to prevent me getting stressed out about all the people around)
  • Christmas Movies – So many feel good Christmas movies out there to watch! From classics like ‘Home Alone’, to Christmas chick flicks like ‘The Holiday’, I love to spend time watching as many as I can squeeze in during the festive season, in between shopping and wrapping! See what my favourites are here.
  • Spoiling my loved ones – particularly true for my parents – they gave us such great Christmas memories during our childhood that I try each year to spoil them a little bit in the way that they did for us (I know it isn’t all material, but I enjoy having the luxury of being able to spoil people I love)
  • Decorations – everywhere!!! In the house, in the town, in the shops, in the workplace!!! Lights, trees, glitter, tinsel, red, gold, green… I love it!!
  • Spending time with your family and friends, and being lazy – the one time of year we all try and have time off at the same time and we spend our days with friends and family, or lazing around on the couch watching movies, eating chocolate and not feeling guilty about it!!
  • The food!! Turkey, Brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, carrots, turnips, and pigs in blankets… the list goes on! No Christmas dinner is complete without a Christmas cracker of course, with the typically rubbish joke!! But it isn’t just about the dinner. It is about the buffets, the tubs of chocolates that every house seems to have, the cheese and crackers we all buy at this time of year, satsumas, nuts… the list goes on! We see it, we eat it!! And then beat ourselves up over it come January!
  • Traditions – we have a few traditions as a family, and even myself and my husband have begun our own traditions… watching ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ on Christmas Eve while eating KFC for example! It is a strange one, but we love it!! We also save all our Christmas cards for family (like parents, each other, brothers etc.) and we all exchange cards on Christmas Eve… kind of like a card version of exchanging gifts I guess. I like it, as it kind of makes it a bit more special!

So… those are just some of the things I love about Christmas!! There are surely more, but those are some.

I am interested to hear what you like about Christmas?

 

Not everyone finds Christmas an enjoyable time of year, that is why we are running the ‘Angels Christmas Sanctuary’ (#AngelsChristmasSanctuary) on Twitter from the @MHCrisisAngels account. Drop us a DM on Twitter if you are interested.

Acs

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Red Roses and Robins

Everyone loses their grandparents right?
It is the natural order of things.
It isn’t right if it is any other way – I know because I know of a situation where a couple not only lost their daughter but their grandson, both within the space of a year. It was tragic in the most genuine sense of the word.

Everyone has a different relationship with their Grandparents.
Some are estranged, some see them only on special occasions, some see them every day, some live with them.

So when the dreaded time comes – for some, sooner than others – everyone has a different experience.

When people hear that an immediate member of the family has died, there is understandably a deep level of empathy for those left behind.
When it comes to the loss of Grandparents, people are loving, supportive and caring, but not always knowing the relationship someone had with a Grandparent, do they understand the impact? Can they understand and see the depth of the grief someone may  experience at the loss of a Grandparent?

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I read that when we grieve we wait until we get through it, until we move on from it – when the reality is, we don’t move on from it – we move on with it. We accept the new version of ourselves that exist without that loved one – a new life with them no longer being physically in it. This is exactly the belief I have always had – We don’t move on from it, we accept it – we absorb the grief and it becomes a part of our story.

I imagine there are very few people who have not lost someone they love.
My husband only had his first loss of a loved one earlier this year, in his 30’s – in this respect, I have always thought him to be very lucky, to have gotten so far in life without having experienced it.

This time of year can be especially painful if you have experienced a loss.
And all the more painful if you have experienced a loss at this time of year.

You might have felt the pain of coming home from a Christmas pantomime to find out your loved one has suddenly been taken.
You might have thought you had the strength to call your friend and tell them of your loss, thinking you were strong enough to tell them, and then breaking down when the words don’t come out.
You might have been excited for a Christmas party and thought you had the strength to go, but it never felt the same when you did.
You might have had the pain of knowing for every Christmas card coming through your loved one’s door, it was another person who had to be told they are gone.
You might have had the morbid anticipation when a card came through your own door… wondering if it would be a Christmas card or a sympathy card.
You might have been reminded of the one you love whenever you see a robin on a Christmas card.
You might have had to shop for funeral wreaths instead of Christmas wreaths.
You might have spent your days at the Undertakers seeing plans for a funeral due to take place days before Christmas, instead of doing last minute Christmas shopping.
You might have had to put aside the Christmas gifts you bought them in favour of laying them to rest with a single red rose and saying your goodbyes.
You might know how it feels. You might have your own memories and experiences.

For me, there was one particular loss which was a huge moment in my life. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it was life changing. It is something I still think about so regularly… constantly torturing myself with “What ifs” and “I wish”… and yet for nothing… because nothing can change it.
Like I said above, I have absorbed it, moved on with it, not from it. It is a part of me, and a part of my story. It has shaped who I am today. I just hope it is someone to be proud of.

Christmas Tag

Thank you to @TheGoodTheHuma1 for tagging me in this fun festive challenge!

I really enjoyed doing this, and hope the people I tagged will do too! An for anyone reading this, I hope you get to learn a little about me : )

Christmas Tag

  1. Do you prefer giving or receiving gifts
    Giving – Don’t get me wrong, of course I enjoy and appreciate receiving gifts, but I LOVE to spoil my family!
  2. Do you make and stick to New Year’s resolutions?
    No – I generally find it puts too much pressure on yourself. In honesty, I always strive to better myself. I ask people for feedback in my professional life, and I know the things in life I need to do generally so try and do these all year round. I am not a massive New Year fan, though I do get sentimental and look back on the year that I have had.
  3. Have you ever made a snowman?
    Oh yes!! I have pictures from my childhood of my brother and I building a snowman, something guaranteed to be done whenever it snowed! (As well as snow ball fights!) I did try building one as an adult, but I think you become more aware of the cold and damp of the snow as an adult, and everything becomes more about practicality!
  4. Is your Christmas tree real or fake, and what theme do you prefer?
    Every year since my childhood, we have always had a real tree – it is part of annual tradition, going and picking the tree. It also became a tradition me and my husband had each year, though this year he has convinced me to buy an artificial tree. My theme is traditional red, gold and green, and I don’t really do tinsel! I love lots of lights and have to have them on the twinkly setting!
  5. Most memorable holiday moment?
    As a child, my most memorable moment was probably a moment, which is still mentioned now… the lounge door was opened and in my disbelief at so many gifts I just said “…alllll themmm presssents”. I was only really small at the time but we still laugh and say it now whenever we have all the presents under the tree! To me, it reflects how lucky we are to have been fortunate enough to be spoilt materially, but also in the fact that we have shared Christmas memories as a family year in year out!
  6. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
    We have a couple of traditions… one being exchanging family cards on Christmas Eve (no presents are exchanged until Christmas Day). I also love settling down and watching The Muppet Christmas Carol with my husband on Christmas Eve which has become a bit of a tradition, but only once everything is sorted ready for Christmas Day!
  7. What is the best Christmas present you have ever received?
    There are so many gifts I have received, it is so difficult! One of the nicest gifts of recent years was an electric piano from my husband. He knows I have always wanted to learn piano, and had bought me piano lessons for a previous Christmas. His hope was that I would get back into it because I had dropped my lessons due to other things going on in my life. I really do need to get back into it! A lovely story of a beautiful Christmas gift can also be found here.
  8. What are your favourite holiday foods?
    Wow… Christmas involves so much food doesn’t it?! I would say pigs in blankets is one of my favourites! Also, my mum does Brussel sprouts with chestnuts, which is really nice and the only time of year we have them together like that.
  9. What is your favourite Christmas film?
    The Muppet Christmas Carol! You can read about why I think that, and some of my other favourite Christmas movies here.
  10. What is your favourite Christmas song?
    Over the years it does tend to change, but the last couple of years I am really into ‘Jingle Bell Rock’. I think this is because it isn’t one I used to hear as much. I have to say I do love ‘All I want for Christmas is You’, and I do love some carols.
  11. What is your favourite thing about Christmas?

I don’t want to spoil anything here because I have a Christmas blog post coming up, so I will link it once it is published!

  1. What would be your dream place to visit at Christmas time?
    For me, I think Christmas is best spent at home with family. It is how it has always been and I enjoy a traditional Christmas at home with the people I love. That said, I would love to go to New York in the run up to Christmas to do shopping, though my anxiety would certainly set me back from doing that as how it is at the moment.
  2. Who do you spend Christmas with?
    On Christmas morning it is just me, my husband and our 2 cats (our furbabies). We open our presents (furbabies included), and then we get dressed and ready for the day ahead.

We go visit my Mother In Law, her husband, & my Brothers in Law. We all have a mass opening of presents, and it is also my Mother In Law’s husband’s birthday so we do his birthday present. We don’t have Christmas dinner with his them, we have New Year’s Dinner on New Year’s Day with them instead.

After that it is normally afternoon, and we head over to my mum’s for Christmas dinner. There we have dinner and more present opening with my mum, dad, brother and Grandma, where we pretty much stay for the remainder of the day. My parents live ridiculously close to us so it is really easy for getting home in the evening, where we spend what is left of the night lazing in the lounge with the cats and each other!

  1. When do you start getting excited about Christmas?
    On and off for months I guess. I started buying Christmas presents in May and felt pretty organised, but I feel excited on and off because I love Christmas, but in honesty I guess I do put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to shopping and wrapping etc. I always want the gifts to reflect the thought I have put in and the wrapping to show I have taken care and time to wrap it.
  2. You have one Christmas wish – what will it be?
    This is so hard, because as an adult, we just want basic things don’t we – for us and our loved ones to be happy and healthy. Something I always wish at New Year for everyone is Health, Wealth & Happiness, so I guess that would be my Christmas wish.

I would love to know what anyone thinks of the answers and for anyone I didn’t tag, please feel free to comment answering any of the questions yourself!

My tags are:

@CrazyQdilla

@the_rolling_20s

@lifeasjst_nikki

‘On The Fence’: Christmas

Love it or hate it, you certainly can’t avoid it! Christmas takes over for the entirety of December, and it feels like it gets earlier and earlier every year.

Some people are huge Christmas fans and love going ‘all out’, but for others, Christmas isn’t the greatest time of year.

Sometimes it isn’t just about being a ‘Grinch’ or a ‘party pooper’, there are people who struggle at this time of year for a variety of reasons – maybe due to their current circumstances, or previous trauma they have experienced etc.

I asked my Twitter followers whether they love it or hate it, and here are some of the things a few of them had to say…

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How do you feel about Christmas?

“I really dislike Christmas, I get very anxious in the run up to Christmas.”

 “I absolutely love Christmas! It feels so magical and cosy. I’ve been known in two previous jobs as the Christmas fairy, so I’ve always been in charge of decorating at work because they know that I love it so much.”

 As long as I can remember,  I have had a love/ hate relationship with Christmas. I suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD brought on by child sexual violence. Half the time I have to force myself to enjoy the traditions. Since having children I find myself loving the holiday more for them. I don’t want them to feel as I do.”

 

What do you think of shops playing Christmas music in November?

“Annoying and a ploy to attempt to get people to spend more money.”

“As much as I enjoy Christmas music, I’d prefer that they wait until the day after Thanksgiving.”

“I honestly can’t stand it. It makes me anxious. It reminds me Christmas will be here soon and there’s so much to do. It puts me in panic mode.”

 

Do you decorate for Christmas?

“When I was living at home I used to decorate for Christmas but last Christmas and this one I have been living in a hostel and I haven’t made such an effort”

“Yes, we go pretty crazy. During the Christmas season, there are virtually no untouched horizontal or vertical surfaces in our home. We put together a very intricate “holiday village” in our living room that takes a couple of days. I love it; it’s like a little virtual world. And it’s great to see granddaughter’s eyes light up when she sees it every year. She just can’t touch it!”

A little, I did more when the kids were younger but now just the basics. This year I won’t even have a tree as I have a puppy and it could be carnage”

 

What is one thing you like about Christmas?

“I like a bit of time with my family”

“Being with all three of our adult kids and getting to relax and just enjoy time with them – and seeing them have fun hang out with each other.”

“Seeing other people happy and little kids having fun is cute. Other than that, not much really.”

 

What is one thing you dislike about Christmas?

“The whole artificiality of it and the negative effect it has on a lot of people.  More suicides around the festive period than any other time of year.”

“The idea that there are people who are lonely and sad.”

“Not having family around like I use to. Everyone has grown up or passed and it’s hard to be together. Also, I can’t enjoy it no matter what and that kills me.”

 

What kind of Christmas did you have as a child?

“I had some weird Christmases growing up, quite a few spent in hospital due to health issues then when I got better every other Christmas was spent with either mum or dad”

“Christmas was amazing when I was a kid. My muma and dad would help me leave out milk and mince pies for Santa, and some carrots for the reindeer. The next morning there would be an almost empty glass, some mince pie crumbs, and a carrot top with bite marks on the bottom of it. I had a huge stocking that got filled by Santa, and then presents from friends and family under the tree. I used to get so many presents that I couldn’t open them all in one day. I’m an only child, so my parents used to make Christmas all about me. Santa still brings me and my dad presents every year.”

“My parents were divorced, so I spent most of them with my mom. After my molestation I spent a few big holidays with my grandparents. Unfortunately , the trauma has erased much of my childhood.”

 

What does your typical Christmas day look like?

”Same as every other day.”

“Christmas Day is always at my auntie’s house. I spend the morning opening the presents under the tree at my house, and then we get ready and go to my auntie’s house. We have a big family dinner, open all the presents at their house together, and then relax in the evening watching Christmas TV. Boxing Day has always been special in my house though. That’s when we do Christmas all over again for just us, and it’s a lot more chill. We stay in our pjs, watch whatever we want on TV, and have a whole second Christmas dinner!”

Get up, stay smelly, eat chocolate – go to bed lol”

 

What would you say to someone who has the opposite view as you on Christmas?

“I would say it’s their opinion and I’m glad they have better experiences than me”

“I’d say to each his own, if you like it fair play but to me it’s just another day.”

“I think it’s sad that people have unpleasant memories of Christmas, and I feel lucky to have great ones. I’d say make the time to volunteer for an hour or two somewhere over the holidays – it really takes you “out of yourself” and reminds you to be grateful for what you have.”

“You do you. Everyone is different, and they can celebrate it (or not celebrate it) however they wish. One of my best friends doesn’t do Christmas in their house. They used to when she was a kid, but thanks to family drama every year they decided to stop celebrating it. Now their tradition is to get takeaway and watch rubbish TV in their pjs. Don’t ruin it for those that love it if you don’t like Christmas, and don’t shove your love for it in other people’s faces if you do love it!”

“Everyone has different views on Christmas, for different reasons. We all have the right to our own feelings and views.”

That is fine, we all have our own experiences. I am not a bah humbug and know that a lot of my issue is circumstance rather than the actual holiday itself.”

 

Please respect that everyone is entitled to an opinion and that the world is full of so many unique people. Unfortunately you are never going to agree with every single person, and every single person isn’t going to agree with your opinion.
If everyone had the same ideas, thoughts & opinions then nothing would change for the worse, but it wouldn’t change for the better either.

 

 

Thank you so much to those who participated in this post… you can check them out and give them a follow, and check their blogs out using the details below:

 

@CynthiaMGill5

@A_Strongerme_

@dawnerichards              Blog Link

@IntroducingMMI           Blog Link

@365days_051215           Blog Link

Thanks also to the person who answered anonymously

A Christmas Gift

Each Christmas was the same, the family would all wait until everyone was awake before venturing downstairs to see what gifts had magically been left beneath the twinkling tree during the night.

A man, a woman, a boy, and a girl, all made their way down the stairs in their pyjamas and dressing gowns, while it was still dark outside because the day hadn’t really broken yet!

The mother and father were in clear need of a coffee or two, the son was eager to see what surprises lay ahead, and the young girl’s long hair had no time to be brushed when there was important present opening to be done!

The lounge door was pushed open, as if it lead to somewhere magical, which to the children, it did. Under the tree, was everything and more than they had expected!

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Amongst the masses of presents, stood a large wooden doll’s house. While the son, being older and uninterested in doll houses, was more interested in the presents still to be unwrapped, the youngest and only daughter, approached the doll house excitedly. The young girl explored the tiny details of the house, a gift which, she imagined, had been built for her by Father Christmas and his elves in his workshop.

The doll’s house came perhaps up to her waist. It had a hinged front and like all the outer walls of the house, it was covered with a red brick work pattern and fitted a look similar to that of a traditional Victorian Town House. Front windows with netted curtains gave it a homely feel, and she couldn’t wait to see what surprises lay inside.

She lifted the little hook which held the front of the house in place, and opened it to reveal the little world inside.

The inside was sectioned – kitchen, bedroom, lounge, and bathroom. Wallpaper decorated the interior of each room, which had tiny Victorian doll furniture, a size which would be suitable for the young girl’s ‘Sylvanian Families’ figures.

So much detail had gone into the various rooms, all matching the Victorian feel of the home – a Grandfather clock, a mangle, a lifting toilet, furniture patterned with tiny flowers.

Looking closely, she could see a light bulb in the ceiling of one of the upper rooms… but wait… did this work?

She explored the little house further. Looking at the outside again, she looked closer at the roof of the house which was patterned with black slates… another hinge! She unhooked the catch, and upon opening found that the whole of the front of the roof lifted to reveal an attic. In the attic she found a small switch, which (as you have probably guessed!), once pressed, lit up the light bulb inside the house!

This house was perfect and became a great little home for the various members of her Sylvanian Family, and the little girl couldn’t have hoped for much more from her doll house, her special gift from Father Christmas and his elves.

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Having once stood in the lounge for some time, the pretty house was moved to the young girl’s bedroom.

Over time, as the girl grew, and with the introduction of a new neighbour in the form of a karaoke machine, the house was used less and less. Many days the noisy neighbour appeared to be hosting a party with appearances from the likes of The Spice Girls and other 90s pop icons, whilst the poor house became somewhat of a clothes horse at times.

Eventually, during a house move, the doll house which had once been so dearly loved and treasured became redundant, and so, was taken to the local tip as there was no place for it in the new home.

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Some 10-15 years later, a young woman sat conversing with her mother. Her dark brown hair, once long enough almost to sit on, was much shorter now, giving a more mature look. The mother and daughter were talking cover coffee, reminiscing. The daughter mentioned a doll house she once had. Looking back, she remembered it fondly. She remembered all the details of the house she had loved as a child, forgetting how over time it had become abandoned in her eagerness to grow up and escape childhood to gain her own independence.

She asked her mother about the detailed furniture, curious about how it had all come together. Her mother told her how she had been and picked each item especially for the house, mentally designing it as she brought it all together.

Not having given it much thought since childhood, it occurred to her that Father Christmas and his elves obviously hadn’t made the dollhouse, so where did it come from? Her mother explained how every little detail had been designed, calculated, and handmade by her own father! Despite working long hours, her father had come home and spent his free time carefully building this house as a Christmas gift for his only daughter. Suddenly all of the tiny details the house had – the red brickwork, the slated roof, the working lights, the little hooks and hinge seemed all the more appreciated than had already been. She felt overwhelmed with emotion and appreciation for the effort that both her parents had put into just one of the Christmas gifts she had received that year.

She also felt a pang of guilt at the thought that the lifespan of the house had been so short and it had come to a bit of an abrupt end in a rushed house move.

The house didn’t still stand, but the memories, love and appreciation for the effort of such a beautiful and thoughtful Christmas gift for a child will always stand. It will never be forgotten or unspoken of. It will forever been one of the greatest Christmas gifts.

And in case you were wondering, and it isn’t already obvious – yes, the little girl was me.

 

My Top Christmas Movies

Now that we are finally in December, it seems a safe place to be able to admit to watching Christmas films!

Over the years there have been new movies come and go but we can’t resist returning to our old favourites!
That being said, there are the rare few that we enjoy so much we allow them the privelege of being added to our annual list of seasonal watches!

I am sure many of my favourites are probably on your list too, but who knows? So why not grab yourself a mug of hot chocolate, cuddle by the fire with the tree lights twinkling and have a read of my favourite festive films…

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ELF

A film I avoided watching for a long time. It came out when I was already an adult and it looked silly, and not my kind of humour.
Over the years (with the influence from my husband), my sense of humour has changed.
A colleague recommended the film and when I eventually got around to watching it, I did find that I enjoyed it.

It is definitely Christmassy and a ‘fun for all the family’ movie which is what you expect from a Christmas film.

My favourite thing about the movie is some of the great lines to quote like “You sit on a throne of lies!” And “SANTA! I KNOW HIM!”

It is just the kind of movie that gets you in the Christmas spirit and that is why it is on my list!

HOME ALONE

I really think this film has to be on my list just because it truly is a classic.
I have watched it every year for most of my life, since it was a big new movie  during my childhood.
With classic music by John Williams, it is hard not to be sucked into the familiarity of a long loved family favourite.
Macauly Culkin is cute as a button, with more charisma than a lot of adult actors in modern day Christmas movies.

Still to this day, I find it hard not to cringe as Marv puts his bare foot straight down onto the nail on the staircase! 🙈

Definitely full of Christmas warmth as well as slapstick comedy moments that appeal to every age.

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

A 2011 British animation with classic actors voicing the main characters, this is one of my favourite animated Christmas movies. Voices including James McAvoy, Bill Nighy and Jim Broadbent come together with Aardman Animations (creators of Wallace and Gromit and ‘Chicken Run’) to bring Father Christmas into the 21st Century.
One scene most people I know who have seen it comment on, is one of the first scenes which suggests exactly how Father Christmas (Santa) gets to deliver all the presents in one evening.
What I love about this film is I personally find it is traditional in the sense that it has all the Christmassy vibes (old fashioned letters to Santa, Family board games etc.), but it brings it into the modern day whilst keeping the sentiment of Christmas at the heart of it.
Clumsy Arthur is the loveable lead, and each character can be compareable to people in real life, providing funny moments individually as well as together as a family.
I love having this movie on while wrapping presents and have already seen it time and again.

SCROOGED

Less family film, but still a classic, Scrooged is one of many twisted versions of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’.
The film was made in the 80’s and was created as a modern version of the story, and although hair and clothing may have dated slightly, the film still stands up and Bill Murray is as entertaining as ever.
Definitely one of my favourite versions of a much loved story and one I would recommend if you haven’t seen it.

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL

Although I am not a fan of the muppets, The Muppet Christmas Carol is my favourite Christmas movie.
Again, this movie is a twist on the classic story of ‘A Christmas Carol’, although it stays a lot closer to the original story more so than movies like ‘Scrooged’.
With Michael Cain taking the lead as Ebenezer Scrooge, most of the rest of the cast are the muppets.
The songs from this movie are another thing which carry this movie.
They are magical Christmas songs I enjoy singing along to and often get them stuck in my head due to how catchy they are. Marley and Marley is one such song. This muppets version has two Marleys played by Statler and Waldorf.
As one of my favourites, this has wriggled it’s way into Christmas Eve tradition, where myself and my husband settle down to watch it whilst feasting on KFC, enjoying the calm after the chaos of all the buying, wrapping and decorating!

THE HOLIDAY

An enjoyable festive Romantic Comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, ‘The Holiday’ is another Christmas film I have seen again and again.
It is one of those films that you can put on whenever it is on TV.
Break ups, unrequited love, and wanting to escape your life is something many people can associate with, so this film where the two leads switch lives is a great exploration of what could happen if someone were given that opportunity to escape during the Christmas period.
With comedy from Jack Black, and romantic heart warming moments from Jude Law, I really enjoy all the aspects of this film as a whole, not just the focus it has on Christmas.

 
Other films, or animations I love are ‘The Snowman’, and it’s follow up ‘The Snowman and the Snowdog’. No matter how many times I see them I never fail to be overcome with emotion, and the beautiful piano music from ‘The Snowman’ still manages to provoke my tears.

Watch ‘The Snowman’:

‘The Snowman and the Snowdog’ trailer:

‘Father Christmas’ is a great little British animation about what he gets up to the whole year through and what happens when he takes a holiday.

Watch ‘Father Christmas’:

These animations are all classics I tend to put on while I wrap Christmas presents.

So, that is what graces the screen of my TV at Christmas time – what are your favourite movies? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

The Ripple Effect: The Stigma of Male Emotion

We have all heard the phrases used to encourage men to play their ‘gender role’ and supress the emotions that come naturally to them.

“Big Boys Don’t Cry”, “Grow a pair”, “Man up”. These words are designed to make them feel guilty for expressing themselves, or talking about their emotions – letting them believe that it is not Ok to cry, that it is not Ok to not be Ok.

What about the words that aren’t said? What about the role models a boy has – that set the example for the rest of his life and shapes the attitudes and beliefs he will carry with him into adulthood?

While some current generations may have learnt to evolve and not keep spewing these clichés towards their children, what they don’t say can still have an impact. Learned behaviours that our own parents picked up from their parents may impact the behaviours they display that their sons pick up on.

In addition to not telling males “toughen up” or “don’t be such a girl”, we need to ensure we encourage the positive ways of expressing emotion and letting them know that actually it is ok to not be ok. We need to let them know that if they open up then they do so as a human being, not with judgement based on gender. Every person deserves to be able to express themselves.

Having the stigma that male emotion cannot be expressed can impact not just the individual, but those around him too. In addition to him having his own role models, he may be a role model himself.

Ripple effect

At 9 years old, I remember playing in my brother’s room when my parents came in to talk to my brother and me. A close family member had been very poorly, and our lives at that point had been heavily impacted by that, so it was no great surprise when they came in to talk about it with us.

My mum and dad explained that the family member wasn’t going to get better. That a tumour in the brain was what was causing them to be ill and that the Doctors weren’t able to do anything for them. At the age of 9, trying to wrap your head around cancer and the destruction it causes to the sufferer is not an easy thing. I think I understood. This meant death was inevitable if there was no way to get better? Cancer was a new concept to me, but death was not.

I felt the emotions rising because this meant death was coming, but who knew when? Mum was so strong telling us, dad stood there supporting her and helping her explain, being the rock she needed while she brought us into the picture. I looked to my teenage brother to see how he was taking this all in. I could feel my emotion building so surely his was too? He looked at my parents and nodded in acceptance, acknowledging that he understood. There were no tears, no waiver in his voice. Maybe I had got this wrong? Maybe I misunderstood? Maybe it meant she couldn’t get better for a while, or maybe she couldn’t get better but she wouldn’t get worse? The emotions I felt worrying that death was around the corner began to sink back down. I had clearly gotten this wrong because my brother would have been upset too over this surely? My parents left the room, and my brother quietly returned to what he was doing.

We all know where this story goes, I hadn’t got it wrong. Cancer took its toll in a short space of time.

After over 20 years, I still remember the effect that suppressing emotion had on my brother, and on my own understandings of life. Not only is expressing emotions healthy, but it is one of many forms of communication between people. Had he shown how he felt in that moment, I may have shared that moment more with him, instead we dealt with it internally, alone.

This reaction I can only attribute to the male role models around him. I certainly don’t remember him ever being told to ‘man up’ or told not to cry, but I also don’t remember seeing my dad cry.

In the 90’s we were not as self aware as we are now, so acting in this way, leading by this example was the norm.

 

 

With male suicides so high, and with mental health now being talked about more than ever, it is so important to keep conversations going. We need to end the stigma, not just of talking about mental health, but talking about emotions in general, regardless of age, gender identification, race, sexuality etc.

Don’t just avoid the phrases, encourage conversations. Let everyone know that it is ok to not be ok.