Ok, so this is off-topic. Apologies to those of you who have been anticipating the first Back to Books With You entry; I was patiently awaiting my return to the Sandman series, the second volume of which happily appeared through the piles of bath salts and chocolate yesterday. So you can expect those posts next. For now, given the wealth of feeling that ekes out at this time of year, I thought it might be nice to meditate a while on what makes Christmas stand out for me.
Granted, you have the obvious – spiced nuts, a piece of meat (or nut roast) bigger than your head, gleefully frivolous TV, the awkward present-opening ritual where everyone waits, watches and claps. But I decided to do things a little differently this year.
My immediate family are quite relaxed on the whole. We all have our tempers, but we all place a high level of importance on allowing ourselves time to do exactly as we please, individually. This may have taxed somewhat on our family dynamic; we are rather spread out with my parents being divorced and my dad now remarried with a new little one on the way in March, my brother in his old house and my mum in yet another. My grandma, the other member that I feel belongs in our immediate circle, is in another place again, on her own, in Cradley Heath. Regardless, we seem to all understand each other perfectly when we do meet up, like old school friends that we don’t necessarily call regularly, but when we do, we pick up where we left off.
We used to celebrate Christmas in a very traditional way; our family bundled into a car and drove up to the grandparents’ house, we all played with the puzzles from the toy drawer and my brother and I tried desperately to watch some normal TV while everyone else talked about something grown-up. Sprouts were always present and always ignored. Washing up was a fresh argument every year. (“I’ll do it,” “NO, I’LL DO IT.”) Since my grandad died and my parents divorced, about eleven years ago now, it’s been a bit different. It’s been a struggle to please everyone. This time, being rather in need of a rest, I announced that I was going to please myself. And the idea was, I suppose not surprisingly, well understood. Staying in my own house in York with just my boyfriend, I made time only for exactly what I wanted to do, eat, watch, listen to, whom I wanted to see. I was not going to travel or go outside my comfort zone. Effort would be a crime.
This time is what makes my Christmas. A full rest. Time to actually notice that bit of mould on the windowsill. To go for a walk and take in views that you don’t every day. To stroke the cat under the chin. Time to get bored. To realise that nothing is urgent. You are in control of your own life, its pacing, and you can reprioritise whenever you want to. If you don’t want to wash up that cup right now, it will wait till tomorrow. Today is surplus, it doesn’t count, nothing you do in it matters.
On Christmas Day, I am grateful that no one cares where I am or what I am doing, not even me.