Christmas and the ‘holiday’ season is a really hard time for me, as it is with anyone who has lost family members, are estranged from their family or perhaps haven’t even been invited anywhere. It’s a double-edged sword.
You are constantly reminded how it’s a day to be surrounded with family. Everywhere we look, people are excitedly off to their family homes for the break , going around to such and such’s house for drinks on xmas eve, having to buy presents for 127494 people, gearing up for charades, cracker-pulling, exchanging of countless presents and dreading having to converse with Auntie Ethel.
I don’t have this, along with many others, and the entire Christmas period seems to be a constant reminder. In the run up to Christmas, I really struggle with everything. I am moody, I am sad, I am overwhelmed and I am slightly jealous.
My mum passed away in 2014, my dad, in 2004. Aside from my brothers (one of whom lives in Hong Kong, the other…Bali) I have no other immediate family. I had always spent Christmas with my mum, at our family home back in Jersey. My brother’s would fly in from wherever they were in the world, and I would fly back from London and we would always have at least 2-3 days of all of us back together (which happened once a year), seeing all our old friends, school friends, going out as a family unit, arguing, eating, drinking, going for walks and just general life catch ups.
The first Christmas without my mum was the worst. I vividly remember having to wear my sunglasses like a washed up z-lister all the way from Gatwick to Jersey because I was just crying the entire flight. It was the first time I had been home since the funeral and sadness and panic was my only emotion. I was only going back to keep my brother company as he suggested he was going to spend Christmas alone, at my mum’s house and he was ‘fine with it’. In all fairness he probably was (we are a strangely independent and strong bunch) but nevertheless I knew what my mum would have wanted me to do so I packed my cases and off I went. It was bleak, I was emotional and it was horrible.
I woke up on Christmas morning in 2014, put my leggings on, no makeup and wandered out onto the cliff paths by myself. I didn’t come back for 3 or 4 hours. I remember the time so vividly, walking and walking, thinking and dreaming of my mum, the time we had together and how much she would have loved to have been with me that day. It was a beautiful day. I took a Selfie. It’s the picture below. I remember it being a really nice picture but I was the most empty I had ever been inside. I don’t think I would have ever come back had it not been for my brother at home, and a I had Christmas lunch to cook for the both of us.
Since then I have had 2 fabulous Christmas days at my best friends’ house in the country. They have always made me and my husband so welcome and we have so much fun. The pain and thoughts linger but drinking champagne and port from 11am-11pm, ingesting copious amounts of cheese and opening presents has curbed the sadness. However welcome you feel, you still get a little of the imposter syndrome. Being *in* on someone else’s family time is a strange feeling and you still get the pangs of being in the way and not quite belonging.
Enough whoa is fucking me. I’m going to have a great Christmas 2017: My FIRST ever Christmas at my home, with my husband and my gorgeous fur balls, Hilda & Herman.
I braved it and I’m going to get on with it all again. I am still finding it hard, I still can’t quite bear to celebrate it like most : we don’t have a tree or many decorations BUT I am investing all my time and energy into the thing I love which is cooking. I want to make a gorgeous meal for me and my husband. I want to lay the dining table all fancy and actually eat on it which which we never do. I want to put my laptop down. I want to switch off, put my comfies on and melt into my sofa and loose myself into endless old movies with no guilt.
I can definitely feel myself turning a corner, embracing Christmas again, and trying to be a little more kick-ASS by making an entire Christmas meal all on my own. PS No one told me there were SO many elements?!! I have been cooking for 2 days already I swear.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and Festive holiday and survive whatever may be thrown at you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, lonely or anything deliberating then here are some helpful contacts to see you through. Never be afraid to reach out:
UK Samaritans (open all year / 24 hours a day) Freephone 116 123
UK Childline Freephone 0800 1111
PAPYRUS (prevention of young suicide) 0800 068 41 41