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Can a “simple Christmas” relieve the midwinter blues?

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The Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter could have been written especially for us here in Yorkshire. The harsh wintry weather has been with us for several weeks now, longer than most other parts of the country. We have had to endure seemingly endless cold snaps and several thick snow falls have turned from a pretty and pristine white into a perpetual dreary sludge, accompanied by sheets of black ice. Currently it’s a winter wonderland again following snow at the weekend, which record drops in temperature have frozen over everywhere.

We have finally reached the winter solstice, the days are at their shortest and the nights are drawing in even faster and colder than in previous years. So it’s no wonder that even the simplest physical tasks can prove difficult. Just getting up and dressed each morning, and driving at a snail’s pace to work, school or the shops can take its toll on couples who aren’t getting on too well anyhow.

I know how difficult it must be for most people to think of Christmas in terms of peace and relaxation at the moment. Everyone is complaining about this shocker of a winter – the worst for over 20 years – and it looks set to keep going for several months yet. As a result we are seeing significantly increased levels of anxiety and stress in our clients.

This is generally a bleak time of the year for all of us. It’s a time when anxieties, fears, and worries are heightened by the darkness that lasts from the night-time well into the day, offering only a few short hours of respite before descending again in the afternoon.

I’m certain the on-going effects of the recession, fears of increased taxation and a rise in the cost of living, added to the inability many have had to enjoy any of the run-up to Christmas because of the weather, are all combining. The worry of the Christmas period itself cannot be ignored – how will it all go off? Will everyone manage amicably through a holiday that is supposed to be happy, but might turn out to be filled with arguments and sheer drudgery? I can well understand why it is easier for some to finally throw in the towel, or at the very least think about it. For many couples this month is literally unbearable and could lead to the start of separation, or represent a relationship’s final stages. And for many people well into the process, and given the weather, it looks set to be a highly unpleasant Christmas – one to dread and to forget.

Some couples however, who still have the choice as to whether they will separate, have gone through the stress of the build up to Christmas this year feeling low and depressed, convinced their relationship is doomed. But they will still go on to celebrate a happy Christmas and find themselves surprisingly contented with their lot.

And for many whose relationship is over, despite the dread of a deeply sad Christmas, they may find they handle it better than they expected. What we fear most often turns out to be not that bad after all.

The bleakest midwinter is in fact a precursor to spring. Nature is simply resting – the pointers are all around. Once our fears and anxieties around the Christmas period are alleviated, things will take an upward turn. Soon the skies will clear and the blue sky and sun hidden above the thick clouds will come through, the weather will improve and the peerless beauty of the English countryside will return.

From my window I can see barren trees rooted in the hard ground of nearby parkland. You would think those trees and the frozen grass are dead. But in only a few weeks’ time I know the first green shoots of life will again start to sprout through and I can’t wait for the pleasure of seeing the first crocus flowering on the ground. Spring will be on its way.

I love the beauty of nature, even in these dark times, and I always will. I have a simple person’s faith. I draw personal comfort from nature at even the bleakest times of year. The beauty of every season always, unfailingly, points me in one simple and positive direction. Life goes on. And I go with it.

We are victims of last weekend’s chaos at Heathrow airport. Instead of Christmas in sunnier climes, we are now spending it here in Yorkshire. But do you know what? I am going to wrap up warmly and head off into the countryside to TV’s Emmerdale, filmed near my home. Perhaps with a bit of luck the sun will be shining and the ground and trees will be sparkling white.

I am so grateful to you for reading my blog, and I would like to wish all my readers a very happy and peaceful Christmas. I hope many of you will be able to enjoy the beauty of nature around you. And for those who are feeling unbearably sad I hope a tiny crocus might flower early in your heart, which you thought was frozen by the chill of winter.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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