When I first started writing this post, I intended to post it before Christmas, but I came down with a chest infection and flu literally the week before Christmas. I can’t remember being this ill for years, so I couldn’t even get up off the sofa to make it to the computer let alone concentrate on what to write so this piece remained unfinished however when I read the intro to it a few days ago, I really wanted to share it with you anyway because it means a lot. I’m so passionate about mental health and I think a lot of us lose sight of what’s important over Christmas we can forget the real meaning of this yearly celebration of Christs’ birth. We get lost and absorbed by consumerism, shopping and the madness of it all and that’s not what Christmas is about. This post hasn’t got glitzy photo’s, it’s just me writing about my thoughts, mood and feelings the week before Christmas when I was horrendously ill, and Christmas was the last thing on my mind, that’s when I started thinking of those less fortunate than us.
December is a magical time of year, I consider the lead up to Christmas to be one of the most exciting times in our calendar where London is bright with fairy lights and very festive, Christmas Markets are set up, everyone is happy anticipating all the wonderful things to come. However, I know many of you dread Christmas and I’d like to not only know why but to explore this further and I would also like us all to spare a thought for those less fortunate than us, the homeless and those with no family and friends spending a very lonely Christmas.
When I first started this blog, I wanted a lifestyle section too not because I’d be writing many posts on fashion or beauty as much as I love both, but I also wanted to write about normal day to day stuff, random things, little things that I enjoy, monthly round-ups but I also wanted to touch on personal stuff that not a lot of us want to admit to or open up about, things that affect us, make us sad as well as happy. Mental health has recently been highlighted by the young Royals bringing it to our attention which is fantastic, I applaud them. The time and effort they’ve dedicated to this affliction and the way they’ve raised awareness on mental health has been brilliant, selfless, genuine and heartfelt, qualities their mother, Princess Diana had in bucket loads. Prince William has also launched an anti-bullying campaign called Stop Speak Support to combat cyberbullying, something that can affect us all especially today’s kids and as a mother of teenagers, this is a subject that is also close to my heart.
I like to add my highs and lows to the blog and if it helps anyone in any small way make a difference to how they feel or seek help, I’ll be happy. Too many bloggers post about beauty products and fashion pieces they’ve been gifted, fantastic holidays, weekends away and fancy dinners at the latest restaurants, and it’s great if you can afford to do that – not everything is a sponsored post, but my blog isn’t just about travel, food, restaurants and Paris although I visit Paris regularly for the blog which is crucial to its’ success, I write about food and recipes as it’s what I love but I’m certainly not out to dinner every week. I want to be real and I want you to know that my life is far from glamorous. Sure, I go out when I can, when we have the time and we can afford to. You see my husband runs his own business and works long hours since he re-located the business and its still early days. Time and effort and a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into the last two years and now, expanding the business is all he thinks about which leaves little time for us as a family and as a couple. This in turn has affected me in ways I didn’t think possible, depression has reared its ugly head more than once these last few years which is why I am very sensitive to other people’s feelings and passionate about our mental health.
Life isn’t about stuff you’re gifted or fancy restaurants every week though some bloggers do lead this amazing life, life is about experiences and memories you make, evenings out/holidays are more special when they don’t happen every week/month.
Christmas can be an awfully lonely time filled with dread, I have my own theories having lived with a mother who often suffered & still suffers with depression which often begins in winter and typically by Christmas, she was/is fully in the grasp of this awful illness. It can have something to do with SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, I don’t want to spend the whole of this article on depression because Christmas is meant to be about having fun, celebrations, being with family and enjoying good food and days/nights out, if anyone is suffering, I do understand, please read my October round-up here which has some valuable advice on this debilitating illness.
My other theory for why people don’t enjoy Christmas is all the unnecessary consumerism, the relentless shopping which brings a horrible amount of people out pounding the pavements and making going about your business whether it’s local to where you live or in London hugely irritating, uncomfortable and downright horrid. I suffered this the week before Christmas, on Friday 22nd to be precise, having left the shopping to the last minute – again!! I had also been ill with flu and a nasty chest infection that week, I was in no fit state on that Friday to go shopping but I HAD to finish it, it was my last opportunity. Having “lost” my spectacles, I then had to spend 90 minutes fighting the crowds retracing my steps to find my glasses which I rely on for distance plus the fact anyone who has specs knows how expensive they are. Eventually I found them, I had left them at the White Company in Selfridges, they in turn sent them up to their lost property department, it was a traumatic shopping experience. I have vowed never to leave Christmas shopping to the last minute ever again after that awful Friday, crowds of mad shoppers and feeling ill is not a good combination. We buy on credit because we don’t want to disappoint our family and friends with “less than perfect” presents leading to debt buying stuff we really can’t afford so January suddenly becomes even more stressful and miserable than it ought to be.
My other theory is kids flying the nest, it can be a lonely time, suddenly Christmas doesn’t seem that fun when kids have left home and there are no excited children eagerly anticipating the arrival of Father Christmas, leaving the mince pie, carrot and brandy out for Santa, seeing excited faces Christmas morning, madly opening presents with wrapping flying all over the place. Yes, I can really see how suddenly Christmas can seem a miserable time of year. Thankfully although my children are older, the youngest being 15 and still at home, I don’t have that dread but I can fully understand the misery that some feel as I see it first hand from my mum who really is suffering this year. Other years she is full of beans and I cherish those moments when she is feeling normal and happy, yes, I fully understand why Christmas for some is lonely and is far from being “festive fun”.
For many old people, Christmas can be extremely lonely time of the year, if you have an elderly relative or neighbour, spare some of your time and pay them a visit, buy them a gift, bring some biscuits and make them a cup of tea, sit down with them and spend some quality time with them, it will make all the difference to their day/Christmas.
Christmas is the most miserable time of year for the homeless, this affects me deeply. I know there are some beggars and homeless who really aren’t, where begging is a job, a way of life especially Eastern Europeans, we’ve seen them in London and on the underground, we’re advised not to give them money. I’m talking about genuine homeless people usually men, the ex-army are often neglected which is disgraceful. This year, Euston station became a shelter for some 200 homeless people offering them a lovely Turkey lunch and other human comforts and contact with people who genuinely care for their plight. This was was organised by various charities and rail staff, it really touched me, I would really like to volunteer for the charity Shelter at some point.
Having said all that, I do enjoy Christmas, December is probably my favourite month of the year because of the festivities, people are generally in a jovial mood and excited for the wonderful things to come. There’s so much to do in London during this time of year. Some of the things I did over December are in this post here. I hope by sharing my experiences, opening up and laying bare my thoughts and feelings, we can all stop and think for a moment that we really are fortunate. Life isn’t all shiny and lovely, a lucky few do have that lifestyle but are they happy? Happiness comes from within not from material things, things we buy. It’s the little things that count, spending time with family and friends, cooking and sharing meals over Christmas, these things, the memories we make are far more precious than expensive presents. Going on a weekend break or holiday suddenly becomes more exciting when it happens only once or twice a year and that special date night is more magical when it isn’t every week but every month. Joy can be found in the little things but above all, spare a thought for those less fortunate than us.
Finally, I want to say thank you to you all for following my blog, I hope my posts are interesting, informative and fun and I hope I can carry on entertaining you in 2018! My ambition in 2017 was to start the blog and my goal for 2018 is to see where it takes me, and I want to concentrate on Paris, the city that I adore and was the inspiration behind the blog so watch this space…..I aim to sprinkle a little bit of Parisian magic and charm your way via this blog.
Love Helen XxX