IT’S A FUNNY TIME OF THE YEAR!
The thrill of Christmas brings with it the excitement and anticipation, the planning and organization, the parties and the family gatherings, and sometimes also the fear and loneliness sparkling lights and gaudy shop windows can’t eradicate.
Every year, as Christmas approaches I have very mixed feelings. The excitement I get each November when I see the ice rink and Christmas lights appear outside the Natural History Museum in London, the beautiful windows of Fortnum & Mason and the stunning lights in Regent Street and Piccadilly, are sometimes overshadowed by memories of Christmases past when all wasn’t as I’d hoped and dreamed.
It all started when I was a small child – I had a distinct fear of Father Christmas coming into my house! In fact, it was the only day of the year I liked my bedroom door to be firmly shut. In the end, whilst still quite young, my mum told me he wasn’t real! Can you imagine? Then, I had a few years when illness struck me as soon as the school holidays began, and there were several Christmases spent with a strict aunt and uncle who had an Oxfam box on the mantelpiece and if I didn’t say “please” and “thank you” I was reprimanded and had to put some of my pocket-money in the box. I was an only child and hanging out with distinctly un-fun family members left me dreading the whole concept of “festivities”.
This all changed when I had my own daughter and made every effort to have the house over-flowing with friends and family, good food and plenty of fizz. I can still close my eyes and see my daughter in her red Christmas dress joyously ripping the wrapping paper and climbing into boxes. Having my own family was perfect. Or was it? ……
I always recall the time when everyone I worked with was going for a drink after work, but I had to hurry to get home. As I rushed through the jostling Christmas crowds in Covent Garden I remember being struck by a distinct feeling of being alone, even though I was happy to be going home. It was just strange, not to be laughing and joking with all the people spilling out of the bars, not to be part of their celebration. It really struck me how awful it would be to truly be alone at this time of year.
However, worse was to come. One year, my much-loved father-in-law passed away in the November and a few days before Christmas my own, equally loved mum, had a massive heart attack. The family was at my house and I was juggling my time between looking after them and driving over 2 hours to visit my mother in hospital. Happily, she lived for another 12 years, but unbelievably had a heart attack on Christmas Day or Boxing Day more times than I like to recall. We tried hard to prevent it happening, aiming to make the day as stress free as possible, but it left my daughter with a massive fear of Christmas and bad memories of spending Christmas nights in A&E!
It’s not all doom and gloom! We’ve had some amazing Christmases skiing in the Alps, others filling our rambling house with friends and having impromptu disco’s in the kitchen, and last year we were in California.
Then this year, my daughter had a health scare and I found I was falling into my ‘fear of Christmas’ head-space, but last week she had good news and this weekend I was finally able to decorate my home feeling hopeful and happy, have close friends round for a Christmas celebration and rather late in the day, write some Christmas cards.
Why am I telling all this? I guess because I want you to stop for a moment and think of others, who perhaps cannot afford to have a fantastic Christmas, who are homeless or sick, but also to know if you are not a Christmas lover, it’s OK. Not everyone in the world is celebrating, some people are working, and others are just ignoring the day. The most important thing is to be happy knowing in just over a week’s time we can get back to normal!!!