Growing up Christmas was a pretty big deal in our house, going to bed on Christmas eve I never thought the day would arrive, the expectancy was huge, and it never seemed to disappoint especially when the presents were opened, we always had a great dinner, and it was open house, visitors dropping by throughout the day.
I’m not sure when I started to lose interest in the whole thing, at first I thought it was just growing up, also I worked in the hospitality industry so this was always the busiest time of year, but it’s more than that families seem to splinter as we/they move away or have life changes which means they don’t stay within the nucleus.
Gradually over the years I spent less and less time preparing for Christmas, finally just spending that time alone, which the first time I did I thought that was the loneliest 2 days I’d ever spent, but I got used to it and came to enjoy the solitude of the day, perhaps too much so because I didn’t even bother to put a tree up,and a traditional Christmas dinner for one is far too much trouble.
Through my bouts of depression, a merry Christmas was the very last thing on my list, although it some ways it isolated me even more, I’d hear people arriving and calling out greetings to loved ones, children’s laughter, but none of it touched me, I was too engulfed in my own loneliness to care.
There was an elderly lady who lived a few doors down, I remember one years walking past her house and there she was face at the window hat and coat on, I thought she’s waiting for her family to pick her up, she was still there on my return, it piqued my interest, and I kept watch and you know no one came and she was just there at the window all day, I could almost hear her tears as she face another Christmas alone.
That’s what I mean about families splintering, I did knock at hers the next day and invited her over, I never knew the full story, her son did live nearby, and there had been some kind of dispute between them, but he never came over for Christmas even on his own, she had to send the presents for the grandchildren, she never saw their reactions or even received a thank you, how terribly sad, I’m not sure that ever really expected to see them, but she got ready just in case and of course to show the neighbours she had a loving son, we never think about the masks others wear do we?.
Now for this year I’ve been invited to spend Christmas with friends and their family and I can tell you anxiety is rising, well no it’s risen I’m terrified, it’s been many years since I was in that situation, with everything that’s been going on over the last 2 years, I’ve spent Christmas in splendid isolation, especially since at that time like now I’ve been without a proper home, and spending the day in a little room seemed to suit, now I’m to be part of something, it was so kind of them to ask and I keep trying to find reasons not to go, but am coming up empty.
Because of the nature of my illness of course I worry about everything, in our town there are far too many street homeless, there is a soup and sandwich run, but that’s in the evening, the Salvation Army open their doors to provide a hot meal at lunchtime, and will provide blankets etc and the hall floor to sleep if the weather is particularly bad, as do many of the churches, however they run on volunteers, which I’ve done in the past, though even now there is so little funding, and with the country being in economic crises even those who do work depend on food banks, and the large supermarkets rarely donate the food they can’t sell(preferring to throw away millions of pounds in food daily)
it seems that only this time of year the various hardships that people fight daily are highlighted, especially for those who live on the edges of the community.
Enough introspection for one night.