It’s Christmas …
Right in the middle of the ‘Christmas Carol’ at this moment, I am. All the ghosts of past, present and future just swirling and swirling around. Don’t you find Christmas can be the most marvellous, and also the most emotionally profound, all at the same time? I am such a memory hoarder! Such an emotional button.
Technically not alone, as I have my precious darlings to celebrate with, but technically, and especially when it comes to those umpteen Christmas parties (the office kind) well, it sort of a hit and miss situation at times. Of course we know this madam is doing about four different jobs (all of which I love) at the moment and that means lots and lots of year end celebrations.
Given that these are not careers but jobs new in the making, the Christmas parties are either with many I do not know well, or mostly those a few decades younger than me. Interesting when it comes to the Secret Santas and I am National Trust when others are party games. I am the thinking of leaving pronto for my bed and the rest are only just starting the night’s festivities. For me, a Christmas party is watching the Christmas movies with loads of popcorn and Sauvignon Blanc. Oh how dated I seem…
Then there is the single situation. And the commute situation – getting home seems like Hannibal crossing the Alps. Also, and it must be said, having a great night out and walking to the tube past so many homeless sheltering in doorways from the bitter cold, is upsetting. On the plus side, I am the chipper versus the hungover brigade next morning.
Then there is this: The shift. It has happened.
My gorgeous children want Christmas at their home this year. No longer Christmas at mum’s. If I were still in the family home with a dozen Christmas trees in every room and cooking enough to keep the Romans off oysters, I may just sink into the redundant spot of self pity. This year I am in the transitory living situation so my abode is somewhat cold in hospitality and I am happy to join rather than host. But it is something to ponder – is this the ghost of the future coming a little too soon? Has it happened to you?
Find myself thinking of Ghost Christmas past and it gets me so teary. Little people with big eyes and huge expectations at the Barbie/Postman Pat/lego possibility. Family large in generation, feasts and fondness all around. God, I loved Christmas then.
Ghost Present and small, but significant. Survival and change. Micro family, with greater depth and understanding of the fragility of life but equally loving and kind. More appreciate of the essence of family.
Ghost Future. Oh this is a nasty thought. Looking forward to the grandchildren and oh, hugging is going to be my favourite pastime, but to the further than that. The thought of me being sat at a communal table of white haired grumpy people, paper hat on head and warbled voiced ‘Santa’s coming to town’ as the tissues and tears flow, and a box of ‘Celebrations’ as my only reward for staying alive, fills me with dread. The hoping the children will come and visit the death nest and my teeth in a glass, well some know me – not on my itinerary. Not going to have a Christmas when someone denies me wine and I cannot chew the mince pie. But I digress …
Back to dealing with Christmas when you are alone. Truth, never are.
As depressing as your situation may seem, you have it good. The need around Christmas time is greater than any other time of the year and you have the ability to make a difference, no matter how small. Charities are desperate for people like you, for an hour, a chat, a touch of hand upon lined hand, for making food, saying a prayer, simply being there. You have no excuse not to be part of another’s story at this time of the year.
It is then when I look past the shiny shiny, the glitter, the surge in celebration. Then I can say, I cannot walk past the homeless and not stop, moan about just about everything and know a mother is struggling. Someone is lonely, another is grieving. Alone, no, not alone, rather a little timid at getting out of the comfort box to be a fairy for good.
The thing is. The other night I lead a tour (in blisteringly cold weather, wind chaffing, fingers numbing cold) of ex-pats joined by a singular company on a Dickensian experience through South London. There were all – religions, cultures, ages and gender. What London was like in the earlier centuries when kitchens were unknown and heating was scarce. We were all different yet all together, far from home, new home and linked. A little mulled wine, some mince pies and story telling and another Christmas story was written.
Ending along the ever riveting Thames, Christmas was good. I had made a difference to their Christmas, in my small way, and that is what it all about.
To Bridget Jones, The Holiday, Love Actually and all the movies that make me cry buckets for Christmas past … to the joy of being able to watch them in Christmas present and again in Christmas future.
Don’t feel alone and stand in the corner at the Christmas parties. Be yourself and give of that substance that is you, to others. The gift will be returned.
Images: BBC, history.com and pintrest