A Christmas Check In


There are Christmas parties, and lights, and merriment, present buying – frantic busyness as preparations are made and there are homeless people sleeping alongside this. I stood on Shop Street and watched the different versions of Christmas playing out before my eyes… A strange and humbling sight… I have my version: gift buying, eating too much, gift receiving, family get together, possibly a minor family fight to keep the tradition alive but generally a pleasant experience of time out and a different type of connection or disconnection.

Others have their own version, lonely and cold, watching the busyness and the laughter and feeling a world apart…reminded of their plight as memories of a different time emerge. Some of us have a house but don’t have a home. Some of us have no house and no home. Christmas reminds many of perfection that is unattainable, of happy families laughing and loving, a Christmas card template of how it should be…

And all the while alongside this side of Christmas, there is the idea of Jesus and his birth, being homeless, born in a hay shed and whether we are religious or not there seems to be an important message… It is easier to turn our backs on the other versions of Christmas  that exist in the world, in our city, in other cities, in the countryside,  next door…but this story of a baby being born in a hay shed reminds me that we need to look out for one another…give to others, care, check in with one another, taking the time to ask: “Are you OK?” This is a time to provide a  safe haven for those in need.


I started this blog with a different idea but my words took me elsewhere. I felt uncomfortable looking at the different versions of Christmas playing out before me, guilty perhaps, because I was going to drink a pint and then go home to my warm home and sleep in a warm bed and think about what gifts I still have to buy…my words are really a reminder to me that Christmas is more than gift buying, or eating nice food or religious celebration for that matter. It is a time to reflect, to take stock, to share, to care and to check in.

And if I think about my work as a therapist, there is something about care for the self in the midst of all of this. And that perhaps taking the time to connect with another, to check in, is also a checking in with myself: “Am I OK?” A meaningful connection with another is a connection with myself.

Happy Christmas and I hope that we can all find connection and meaning in the midst of the busyness!!

Read other articles in the series ‘Thoughts on Therapy’