by Athanasios Komianos
For me Christmas was always a period of extreme tension. It was the time when the pressure of everyday life would subside and underlying long-standing issues would spring up. Suddenly, everything should change. From the decoration to dressing up everything had to change. You could not be indifferent for your neighbours or interested in mundane things during Christmas. All of the sudden you were expected to be polite, kind, and smiling. Regardless of what you were throughout the year what your character or your temperament was, you had to become a nice person and compassionate and understanding. If people died around you or starved or suffered was of no interest throughout the rest of the year, but at Christmas you had to understand and share with them your “surplus” of love. Yes, all of the sudden there was an overabundance of love. All these people would abandon their day to day masks and they would replace it with other masks, those of compassion and giving.
Municipalities, towns and cities would compete in trying to have a bigger tree, a better decoration, fancier lights. The shops were even worse. They would become fancier to attract clients so that everyone would buy gifts for their loved ones. But as always there are two sides to a coin. The presents present a problem. To whom do I purchase what? How could this represent my admiration, and to what extent? Can I be fair, or, fair enough at least?
The dilemmas did not end there for me. You had to see all your relatives that were lost in the year. You had to be polite to them even if you disliked them.
We live in the times of American hegemony and that is what made the “spirit” of Christmas so universal. The micro culture had to adapt a model imposed by the macro world. Its own traditional long-standing customs had to be abandoned in favour of the bigger and better foreign (American) ones. Christmas can no longer be conceived without the American music and carols of the 50s. You cannot sit at a Christmas table without eating turkey with stuffing. You cannot enjoy Christmas if you do not have a Christmas tree at your living room to put your gifts under. You cannot go through Christmas without seeing for the hundredth time Home Alone. In my humble opinion this is cultural submission to an imposed well served foreign dish.
But what happens when you release a balloon into a vacuum chamber? BOOM! Precisely with pressure absent the internal air expands and the balloon explodes. What happens when the pressure of everyday life is suspended? BOOM! Precisely the internal pressures surface and there you have an outright surfacing of a long-standing problem. Some of the most impressive sessions I had in my practice took place during vacation periods and especially at Christmas times. In Christmas it is mostly family matters that spring up, while in other vacation times more personal matters surface. That is what I have noticed in my practice, I do not know what you have noticed but I am sure that you must have also sensed similar trends.
In conclusion I am suggesting that by still having therapeutic sessions during Christmas you are actually helping people even more than you do in your daily practice, because the problems that arise are deeper, stronger and more persistent than the ones we usually deal with.
So, Merry Christmas and try to retain as much of the traditional mores and practices of your country by keeping away from the commercially imposed practices that have overwhelmed us today.
May the coming year make us wiser and profound.
Love to all of you.