It is impossible to escape…
From late October, it starts – the bargains and best deals, the crowd’s bag-heavy frantic rushing from shop to Santa’s Grotto for the annual photo shoot, the baubles and tinsel decorating every shop blaring out yet another version of Wham!’s “Last Christmas”. So much to do, so little time…Christmas is a crazy time of year. There is an assumption that you have to have a big Christmas and if you spend it in any other way than expected, you are pitied. People feel pressured to buy unwanted presents for people they rarely see, to provide a handful of relatives with an enormous feast that could feed an army or a whole detention centre of immigrants, to spend time and money on people with whom you may be related but disconnected by age, or experiences. Everyone is on edge, argumentative, upset, demanding.
Ours started like most, with a statement from Mother about her plans. A few days later we were almost summoned to also attend the same function. On other occasions, I had acquiesced but not this time. I thanked her for the invitation and politely declined to spend my Christmas Day with a couple of relatives and a whole bunch of unknowns at, what I had previously found to be, a totally pretentious and fake affair.
Suddenly the blame for family dysfunction, selfish acts and ignorance, and why not, throw in there the threat to world peace, was laid at my feet. Everything was my fault. But in a show of unrealised strength I remained steadfast in my decision. I am after all, over 50, an adult and capable of making my own mind up.
Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash
“Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand”Dr Seuss
Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration, of laughter and joy, spending time with those dearest, most special to you and wishing for peace and happiness for all. And whilst I can appreciate the sentiments behind the meaning of Christmas, both Christian and Pagan, after this year, all I wanted was for Christmas to hurry up and be over with so that the new year could begin. Terrible, I know, wishing time away.
But joy still has a way of finding you even when you don’t seek it. Christmas Eve was joyful with the announcement of a baby boy, due in June 2019, to a brother I love dearly, who I thought would never realise his potential to be a great dad, and a Spanish/Catalan darling who shares his life and his heart.
Joy begets joy and whilst I am still coming to terms with the idea of grandmother-hood, the surprising news was still exciting. Son 1 and his fiancée were expecting in July. Despite the estrangement, I hope this will be an opportunity for reconnection, new beginnings and maybe, new traditions.
A new tradition – like removing the pressure of commercial Christmas, to just spend time with family and special friends laughing and enjoying each other’s company, drinking beer (or wine or soft drink), watching silly movies that make you cry for the love of them, being grateful for our lives and circumstances.
Yes, a new tradition – like making it an occasion for togetherness that fills you with enough joy to sustain you for the year to come and giving the most precious gift of all – your time.