With the holidays almost upon us, if your chest (and fists) are starting to tighten, if you’re feeling unease in your gut, it could be that, like millions of other people around the world, you are experiencing the holiday dread of having to pretend.









  • unease – lack of ease (=naturalness) as in social relations; embarrassment
  • gut – (informal) used in reference to a feeling based on an instinctive emotional response rather than considered thought
  • dread – a strong feeling of fear or worry
  • downtime – a period of relaxation or decreased activity
  • ungrateful – unappreciative; not showing gratitude
  • to project – to give idea about someone/something, to imagine emotion, to plan something
  • to re-enact – to repeat the actions of (an earlier event or incident)
  • to own up to sth – to admit that you have done something wrong
  • indulgence – the habit of allowing yourself to do or have whatever you want
  • to resent – to feel bitter and angry about someone/something
  • exacerbating – making worse
  • to cater to  – to provide people with something they want or need
  • to retreat (to your bedroom) – to go to a quiet safe place to avoid a difficult situation
  • to crave – to want greatly
  • guilty pleasure – an activity or piece of media that someone enjoys but would be embarrassed by if other people found out about it


  • How do you spend Christmas?
  • Do you sometimes feel you are pretending during Christmas?
  • Do you ask your friends and family what kind of presents they would like to receive?
  • Do you indulge yourself with all the food, desserts that are served during Christmas?
  • What’s the best Christmas you’ve ever had?
  • Is there anything you dislike about Christmas?
  • Does anything make you feel stressed at Christmas? What?
  • How do you feel when Christmas is over for another year?      



Practice Makes Perfect

Fill in the gaps in the sentences below with the correct form of the words in bold. Check your answers here: Christmas_how to stop_pretending


indulge                         unease                  resent                                  exacerbate

     grateful                 re-enact                 downtime               own up to



Holidays can bring with them a lot of pretending, for example pretending you want to spend your (1) ………… with people whose company has come to make you feel  (2) ……… or stressed. (…)

Christmas is understood to be all about the joy of giving to others, however the real problem for most people comes from the feeling of being an (3) …………. guest or receiver of gifts. (…)

If you’ve been causing your loved ones unnecessary stress for years by secretly trying to (4) …………. the ‘perfect’ Christmas you never actually had as a child, (5) ………….. it. (…)

If you’ve been pretending that you love the (6) …………… of a 7,000 calorie meal when you secretly (7) ………… your loved ones for serving it and hate yourself for consuming it, admit it. (…)

There could well be some other matter, unrelated to the holiday, about which you are not being completely truthful, and the prospect of being together as a family is (8) ……………. this inauthenticity.


ANSWERS: 1. downtime; 2. uneasy; 3. ungrateful; 4. re-enact; 5. own up to; 6. indulgence; 7. resent; 8. exacerbating

Answer the following questions:

Do you sometimes treat yourself to a guilty pleasure?

Is there anything you resent?

What situation would make you feel uneasy?

Do you use your gut feelings when making decisions?

Is it difficult for you to own up to a mistake you`ve made?

Do you sometimes have a craving for sweet foods?



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