Before the Coca Cola Santa Claus, before fireplaces were banned from the flatlands, before plastic trees (which at least get recycled…) and long before we invented plastics, Christmas was already there.

Our great-great-grandparents celebrated it with the Winter Solstice: the Celtic feast of Yule on December 21, the Jewish feast of Hanukkah from the 25th to the 30th, and the Roman ones that after the Saturnalia (from the 17th to the 23rd) culminated in the Dies Natalis Sol Invictus, the day of the sun’s birth.

For those who lived without our smart bulbs, the Winter Solstice marked the end of the darkest time of the year and the beginning of a new cycle of light.

The return of light merited big parties, dancing, dancing, music and merriment. Even then it was an opportunity to gather and huddle together. To light candles and fires. To eat in company. 

Although at least a couple of millennia have passed since then, even in the midst of our super glittery metropolises, like almost everyone else, you still celebrate the end of darkness and the return of light.

Panettone, pandoro, and gingerbread. Bright lights everywhere, decorated storefronts, festooned houses, reindeer made of plastic, wood, and fake fur. Songs on the radio, commercials on TV, and banners suggest what gifts to order. 

Yes, it is Christmas. 

It already been since right after Halloween. You’ve just taken out the pumpkins, turning them into soup, and any cobwebs, that already you have to pull out the balls and put up the tree, or buy one promising you’ll replant it.

As the temperatures drop, the atmosphere warms up. Not for everyone, though.

For some, the Light is returning, but for many other people, this is among the darkest times of the year.

“Christmas with your folks,” they say.

Because “at Christmas, you can” (as in an Italian Panettone commercial). 

In fact, at Christmas, “you have to.” You have to think about presents, maybe without reducing yourself to the last day.  “Ah, but next year I’ll start earlier…,” you say every December. You have to make a budget, as you could give economic weight and value to people. It’s a bad thing, making a budget, but it’s to avoid a bloodletting.

You have to plan lunches and dinners, home and away, for friends and relatives, including those you’d rather not see. You have to come up with a menu, you have to do the shopping. You have to cook and then set the table properly.

You have to spend money. Driving in traffic. Slaloming through stores, through mall tunnels, dodging the crush. You have to run, jamming all the duties of Christmas into your Calendar, between Zooms and clients, between the studio and the rest.

You have to hold on. Especially if you don’t like Christmas.

Especially if you are one of those People Who Hate Christmas.  Especially if, instead of feeling the magic, you see capitalism and consumerism.

You see and think about the waste of food, money, and energy.

Like the Grinch, who in fact hates Christmas and everything that represents it.

The Grinch hates it so much that he decides to ruin it for the people of his town by stealing all the presents, streamers and lights, until he meets a little girl with a superpower that melts his heart. The superpower is love, and this love is the medicine that cures his soul.

If you don’t feel the magic, if you don’t have safe bonds beside and around you that nourish your body and spirit, Christmas can really become a Way of the Cross. Even a source of emotional distress.

Of stress and anxiety over all the things you have to do and the things you can’t.

Of so much pain that it could become depression. 

The little lights and festive atmosphere can make you feel deep sadness. 

Instead of being happy and sparkling, it may be that you feel – more than ever – loneliness these days. It may be that the holidays remind you of something good that is gone, someone you lost, or something you never had the privilege of experiencing.

You may even feel anger, as happens to old Scrooge in Dickens’ story “A Christmas Carol,” who sees Christmas as “a feast for children and fools.”

On Christmas night itself, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts: the Spirit of Christmas Past, the Spirit of Christmas Present, and the Spirit of Christmas Future. The first takes him back to when he was still a kind, generous young man, and in love with a girl he lost to his avarice. The second ghost, the Spirit of Christmas Present, makes him see his family and friends celebrating Christmas, and also the family of his employee, who does not have a penny, but seems very very happy. The last spirit never speaks, not a single word, while showing him what will happen after his death, and thus lifting the veil on what is really missing in his life: love!

People who hate Christmas are not Grinch or even Scrooge.

They are not monsters or selfish old people.

People who hate Christmas are often, broken hearts.

Or sometimes just “people who hate Mariah Carey or Micheal Bublè” quote D.G.

These people carry the weight of loneliness on them, even within their families and couples, living with scars from the lack of secure ties, feeling every moment the emptiness inside them, and around them.

For these people, just during the holidays, emotion-focused therapy (EFT) can be of great help, accompanying them along a path toward understanding and accepting their emotions.

While writing, I am imagining this path as a bridge. On one side of the bridge, I see the darkness and all the discomfort experienced by people who hate Christmas.

The bridge I am imagining rests on three major pillars:

1. Focus on emotions

2. Attachment theory

3. Mindful and emotionally attuned communication.

Across the bridge, on the other side, I see the light of a more conscious shore. 

I see the light of acceptance, I see the light of newfound emotional and psychophysical well-being.

Better emotional regulation.

Stronger relationships.

Greater empathy.

Better self-acceptance.

On the other side, I see less emotional distress and more connection.

Whoever you are, whatever the reason that brought you to the pages of our EFT family, my best wishes go out to you.

To you who celebrate it, to you who may not love Christmas, and especially to you who hate it because it causes you pain. 

That is why it is precisely to you that I wish love and light today.

I wish you light, the end of darkness, the beginning of a new cycle.

With other people, alone, with dogs or cats, with just music, with just you, special in your own way.

I wish you true love, openness, understanding, and wonder.