A mother of three, Michelle Foulia, 49, residing in North Wales, has chosen a unique approach to the festive season. Her family does not engage in traditional Christmas celebrations, and her children have been raised with the understanding that Santa Claus is a fictional character.
Struggling with ADHD, Michelle found the festive season particularly challenging and noticed her children experienced similar difficulties.
The family, including Mihalis, 20, Vangelis, 15, and Areti, 12, opts for a quiet approach during this period.
Michelle expressed to NeedToKnow.co.uk, “I never felt comfortable lying to my children, not even in the name of fun. They’ve always known the truth about Santa. Whenever we encountered a Santa at events, I made it clear it was someone in costume. It’s hard to justify why Santa would give different gifts to different children. The various interpretations of Santa, some quite dark, always unsettled me.”
Initially, the family observed traditional Christmas customs, but it brought significant financial and emotional strain.
Michelle recounted, “We used to follow societal norms when the children were young. However, as they grew, we shifted our approach to life. Adhering to traditions and societal expectations was not only financially burdensome but also mentally taxing. It involved managing social anxiety, the fear of forgetting or doing something incorrectly, and the pressure to meet expectations. The inescapable onslaught of Christmas decorations, music, crowds, and sensory overload was overwhelming.”
The family has since adopted their own version of Christmas, devoid of the usual fanfare and noise.
She shared, “We noticed a significant improvement in our collective wellbeing when we started doing things our way. This approach allowed us to bond more meaningfully and establish our own standards. It’s been a tranquil and freeing experience. The holiday season often brings about excessive spending, stress, waste, family conflicts, and financial strain, all stemming from a fantasy.”
While they don’t follow conventional Christmas practices, the family does exchange gifts and enjoys a special meal at the year’s end, but without a tree or decorations.
Michelle added, “We focus on connection, reflecting on the past year, and planning for the future. Our day is relaxed, with no expectations. We might chat, laugh, play games, or simply enjoy each other’s company.”