I’m a 27-year old #ManOnTheMoon. It wasn’t a conscious decision. Nobody really chooses to feel like an outsider. Like you’re waiting for feelings of warmth to wrap you up and take away heartache.
To explain why I hate Christmas, I need you to understand that there was a time when I loved it too.
When I sang every terrible song in a high-pitched squeal, helping stir the cake mix while mam lined the tin for the oven.
A time where I wrote heartfelt scribbles to Santa asking for everything from a secret diary to a colouring set. Big family dinners were shared around a table with the family engraved placemats, and we all dutifully took our seats to wolf down plates laden with food.
Grabbing my sister to slide down the stairs in our matching skates, only to crash and bring down the Christmas trees. Pine needles in eyes and hysterical screams in suit.
I remember telling my mum on December 23rd that I had wished last minute that Santa would bring me a puppet. Two days later, I found myself playing with a chequered Pinocchio affair. Granny told me Santa must have been watching. He must have known I was trying so hard to be good.
Years later my mum told me there was no way she was breaking the spell of Christmas for me.
I have beautiful memories of times shared with a family, surrounded by love.
And then some of the people I held dearest in the world left me behind. Not out of choice, but simply as part of life.
The world kept going, but that magical festive feeling stood still. Since then, the festive season falls flat, and I carry a loneliness for people and places that have long gone cold. I’ll never be able to ‘go home’ for Christmas, which years later, I now accept.
In all honesty, no present will ever match up to the one thing I want.
And no – I’m not naïve enough to think I’m alone.
The reason the #ManOnTheMoon started trending yesterday is because we all know one person who struggles at this time of year.
We all know a neighbour, friend, family member who dread the end of Halloween and the slow build-up of 24/7 merriness.
Last year, Childline revealed that 1,200 children called their services looking for a friendly voice. Needing to reach out and talk to someone. Searching for a soothing voice. Looking for refuge from a time that should be filled with box-sets and trepidation over which bar to demolish next.
No child should be worrying about anything other than disturbing Santa by creeping downstairs too early – but realistically, that’s not always the case.
Issues like elderly loneliness, family and relationship problems, financial worries, depression and mental health struggles come bubbling to the surface as crackers are pulled and the rest of the world settle into the hum of Christmas soap specials. We’re a country that are still learning how to battle our issues with alcohol, and families are forced to watch people they love fight against temptation at a time celebrated with ’12 pubs’ and hot toddies.
Recent figures published on Homeless Dublin shows an increase in the number of individuals who have accessed homeless accommodation in the city. In the second quarter of this year 3095 people have availed of homeless services.
Where’s their Christmas miracle?
The Samaritans received around 200 calls a day during the Christmas period last year – from people who knew how to ask for help. Were all their problems solved that night?
Probably not immediately, but at least they asked for help. They reached out.
How many people sit in silence, waiting for the world to go back to normal? For the shops to open, for work hours to resume. To be distracted by the normal bustle that seems to come to a deafening silence for two days every year.
I know I’ll learn to love Christmas again.
When I’m watching my own children’s pudgy hands master a pen and paper in their quest for Santa, or watching my niece and nephew open each door in the advent calendar peering with excitement to see what’s inside.
I’ll always sing along to a carol, eat a mince pie and cry at the John Lewis ad.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that for some of us, Christmas isn’t the magical winter wonderland plastered across every shop window or playing out on our TV screens.
The fact is, we probably don’t mean to be a Grinch. Sometimes it’s just easier to wash the whole thing down with a glass of milk and tin of Roses.
I’ll get my Christmas miracle. I know one day I’ll have my own family and a lot of my loneliness will slip away.
Not everyone’s so lucky.
We all took 2 mins out of our mornings this week to cry at the John Lewis. If we just take another 2 mins to check in with someone feeling vulnerable, it might just be the greatest gift you can pass along this December.