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Well, what a year it has been, or depending on your outlook, what a year it hasn’t been!
As we near Christmas, we inevitably reflect on the previous twelve months, and look ahead to the next with hope, with promise, and with resolution. This year is no exception, although I think there will be less ‘ringing in’, and more of an apprehensive peek around the corner to 2021, fingers tightly crossed, daring to dream of better times ahead.
With families forced to distance, events postponed and social contact all too often reduced to a computer screen, the country seems to be clinging to the impending festivities.
They can cancel Glastonbury, a haircut and my brother’s wedding, but they can’t cancel Christmas.
However – and don’t hate me for saying this, I kind of wish they would.
Bah Humbug I hear you all cry. I don’t care. I’ve heard it before. It’s water off a duck’s back, or goose, if we are sticking with a theme.
Because if I’m honest, I’m not really a fan, and haven’t been for a long time.
This wasn’t always the case. As a child, I loved Christmas. I was excited to open presents on the 25th, but it was so much more than that. It was the school play, My Grandma’s big Polish feast, making decorations with my mum and a tree loaded with as much tinsel as its branches would bear.
There was no looking back at the year that was or forward to the one to come. No regret or expectation. It was just ‘in the here and now’ magic.
Of course, I am joking when I say that I wish Christmas could be cancelled. I wouldn’t want to deny any child the joy of performing in the nativity or making paper snowflakes (although we might have to take the glitter away in the interest of the oceans).
But as an adult, I have found Christmas to be less twinkle and more tedium.
I love good food, I like a drink, and I enjoy spending time with my family. I just don’t feel the need to cram as much of these things as possible into the space of 3 days. If there was ever a shining example of ‘too much of a good thing’, it’s Christmas.
I can, and I do these things all year round.
If you have been following my blogs, it may not surprise you to learn that I don’t like being told what to do, least of all have a good time. Enforced fun, in my book, is no fun.
If the over- the -top over- indulgence isn’t enough, I am also told that expensive perfume, a Fitbit or charm bracelet will be the icing on the Christmas cake of happiness.
Now I love to give, I’m not mean, (or from Yorkshire), but it has to have a value beyond pounds, be personal and thoughtful. I enjoy surprising friends with a random card when they least expect it and I love a present that says, I know you and I care.
I hate the phrase ‘I have to do my Christmas shopping’ suggestive of buying for the sake buying. Searching for gifts, writing cards should bring feelings of joy and love, not stress and obligation.
Normally I grin and bear it. I don the paper hat, I play the game, I wear my stretchy jeans.
But in a year full of change and challenge, of love and loss, I’ve decided it’s the time to shake things up, to do Christmas my way.
I have decided to check out of the compulsory celebrations. There will be no Turkey or stuffing, no presents or crackers, no falling asleep on the sofa.
I’m off on an adventure. I’m going to read and run, swim and ride. I’m going put the jet boil on, light the fire pit and sit under the stars.
I appreciate that I am lucky. I am well aware that my solitude is an indulgence of choice, at a time many have struggled with the loneliness of separation. But whatever your Christmas may be, I hope you manage to switch off the news and TV ads, buy with care and give with love, laugh and sing, and find some glitter free sparkle.
I am apprehensive about spending the holidays alone, but also excited. Whether it turns out to be fun or a complete disaster, I hope to find some magic in the moment.