Right from the outset, I have to own up here........I haven’t got twelve masks.  I simply adapted the song title, and whilst I can promise you masks, there won’t be 12!

It is that season when we are bombarded at every level with images of gifts, food, family reunions and all things fabulous.

However, it often takes a lot of guts, strength and the concept of “putting on a face” to engage with all that.

And for some, there won’t be any of that.  The homeless and those in debt or those living alone don’t need or use a mask because what and who they are is what they present to the world as it is.

But for many there’s a huge effort involved in “enjoying” the season and gathering up the nerve to return to work facing the questions “Did you have a good time?” with whatever mask can be used to survive.

I can remember when the family was younger, there would be endless family phone consultations about which of us was seeing or visiting which parents, grandparents, in-laws and when.  It was always an arduous task complicated by family relationships right down the line.

So what about these masks then?

Well it might be about the relationship mask – everything is “fine”.  You know the process.

Or perhaps the financial mask of buying loads of present because we feel we need to and stacking up the debt to manage it.

Or simply feeling that we have to join in at all and be all happy and jolly when we absolutely are not feeling it.

Whatever the mask we put on for the festive season, it’s important to recognise that and find some safe place to lay aside that mask and face reality afterwards.

That’s not to be a killjoy.  But it is about reality.  The danger with masks is that when they become a permanent fixture, they impede our relationship with the world around and ultimately what started as a protection becomes a hindrance to our knowing others and others knowing us.

A therapeutic space will provide a safe place to take off the masks.  But if we are not in therapy, it feels important to me to find that safe space for ourselves to take off the mask, and be ourselves.

Coming back home from family visits with young children was always a space for me to take off the mask.  My own home is always my safe space.

What’s your safe space?