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Christmas Reset

By Thomas Lynch, Dad's Rock National Development Manager

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It’s that time of year, when as the songs say we come together for a good time, one big happy family, right?

Well that’s not my experience of Christmas. My family were never big on displays of love and affection, and quite often around Christmas time we would be doing our own thing in the family home, coming together for food and then retreating to our personal pursuits.  I think for us knowing we were there was enough, we didn’t need to be hanging out together all the time.  I still value that personal time.  Thinking about it now, perhaps it was our way of keeping everyone happy, in that we had the ability to walk away and get our own space, and come back together into the ‘group’ when we wanted.  It felt good enough for us.

It can be hard to agree on the best way to celebrate Christmas, as people can be pulling in all different directions. Some want the big event around a table, others want to keep it simple.  I remember thinking, perhaps Christmas is all about compromising.  At times for me in the past it’s felt a challenge to please everyone that I’m sure I’ve ended up pleasing no one.

One year my parents were away for Christmas, and I decided to have Christmas dinner myself, it was great to be in control of the day, and whilst it was nice to receive so many invitations to be with people it felt okay if not good to be by myself. As for the dinner itself, well let’s just say it was a learning experience, especially when it came to roasting tatties!

Just over 10 years ago I decided that it was time to do something different for Christmas, and that was to not be with my family.

Initially it felt selfish and a wee bit anti-social to say I wanted to spend Christmas without them, but I wanted and needed to do something new. Through the volunteering I had been doing with The Samaritans, there was the opportunity to volunteer at the Crisis Homeless Shelter in London over the Christmas and New Year period.

I was there for approximately three days, from Christmas Eve until Boxing Day. It was my first experience of listening to and supporting those impacted by homelessness, suffice to say I was blown away by how amazing the shelter was, and how much preparation and organisation had gone in to providing what they had for everyone.

It was a real wake up call to what was important about Christmas. It kind of felt like I hit the reset button, and reminded me that slowing down and focusing on those around you, listening and talking to them was what Christmas was about, all the other stuff (such as food and presents) was just that – stuff.  We can be so busy the rest of the year, perhaps this is the one time to be together, to talk and show we care.

Thomas Lynch, Dad's Rock National Development Manager

Thomas is a qualified counsellor and HR manager, with a background of volunteering in the third sector. Currently studying childcare. He has one son, at primary school. He wants to help families have fun with their kids, support dads and make Scotland the best place to grow up.

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