The dark nights are well and truly upon us and this year I am going to try something I’ve never really done in my adulthood. I’m going to enjoy Christmas. My usual bah humbug attitude of minimal decorations up as late as I can manage it and then down early as is humanly possible without scarring the kids for life is going to be different. I have started my new found festive excitement by getting rid of my Christmas tree. Now that might sound counter productive but I have donated it’s fir coned self to the Royal Blind School Christmas show. Now before you think I should be beatified for this I do actually work there so it’s not like I arrived at the door like a modern day Scrooge visiting the Cratchit’s house on Christmas morn laden with good cheer and a big fat goose but it is still going to good use. That tree purchased in 2006 is like the ghost of Christmas past and each one pretty poor. Each year that it was dragged out of the two industrial bin bags my heart would sink. While each colour coded branch slipped into its colour coded partner slot my mood would darkem until “merry” melancholia took root spreading like dutch elm disease and strangling any notion of fun. New neural pathways? This was one yearly event that needed a good forging in a different direction.
I can remember as a child being so excited when certain decorations made their Yuletide appearance. The warm memories of the angel with the yellow wool hair that rotated to ‘Silent Night’ when you turned the key or the snow globe containing the tiny Victorian street scene ( they’re always Victorian aren’t they?) and the metal candle holder that had to be carefully pieced together and when the candles were lit the heat made the reindeer dance around. Yet in the last 12 years whenever I stuck my hand into the tangled mess of what seemed like a mile long cable of cherry fairy lights woven into tarnished tinsel the pulling out of each decoration was like falling onto a cactus plant with your bare leg; each one stinging more than the last.
It’s funny how negative memories can sometimes have a habit of taking centre stage with me rather than the positives. Is that because I expect the downside so if it is a festive flop I can’t be disappointed? I mean aren’t they all like that? Stress, stress and more stress. It’s not like I even believe in God so this whole tiresome tinsel fest is wasted on me. Then of course there is the Christmas association with alcohol. Not that I ever needed an excuse but it was a big green light to get shit faced by at least midday and carry on down the gin soaked road until everyone had gone, the kids were shackled in bed and I could be left in peace inwardly delighted to tick another Christmas off the calendar of life but too pissed to actually show anything more than drunken stupor. I was of course not drinking last year but I still had the same figgy pudding frown on and of course the terrible memory tree was there in the room with its tired tinselled branches trying to twinkle. It’s weary baubles each one weighed down with a miserable memory of each Christmas past. It’s just there, in the corner,staring at me.
This year I have bought myself an early Christmas present of a brand new trowel and I am starting by drawing a line in the grey matter. A light fresh new line but clear enough to see and each day I’m going to work that line with my trowel making it deeper and full of newly made Christmas memories. Im going to buy new decorations that the kids and I can choose together and we will create new memories of this Christmas and for the ones yet to come. I am going to fill our home with the smell of oranges, cloves, nutmeg, pine and cinnamon. We will cuddle up together and watch warm festive films. We shall love and support each other and feel lucky and blessed for having that.
As I have said I am not religious but I absolutely respect those who are and whatever belief system they follow or whichever festivals they celebrate but for me I am going to view this Christmas as a time to reflect. Rather than assuming the day will be all for nothing I’m going to make sure that it is most definitely for something. 2015 has been another one of those years which has been so up and down I should have had travel sickness tablets on repeat prescription but I am nearly out the other side and it will end with emotional kindness and experiential validation for those difficult times. It will be a celebration of the successes of the past year and the unchartered hopes for the future.
There is so much to be thankful for even in those times when we are sad. Life’s departures need not always be viewed with disappointment, frustration or hurt but in taking the good from them, the happy times, the shared experience we can remember that what we have gained is unique and incomparable to anything else. That in itself (although with some loss) so much has been gained through life’s experience and we are the richer for it although not always obvious until later reflection offers a different world view. That’s what I want – see Christmas with fresh new eyes rather than the tired tear stained ones of the past. To view it not as a tangled fairy light mass of difficult memories and associations but as a future path of enlightened opportunities offering new experiences and enriching life everyday.
So ring them bells…. It’s Chriiiiiiisstmaaassss!!
Ps 607 days
Pps Happy St Andrews Day and 🎉🎂😘