Life is not the movies

It’s become a surreptitious tradition to watch Bill Murray in Scrooged at Christmas. I missed it last year I think, and this year only got to it on the night of Christmas Day after everyone else had gone to sleep.

Once more I settled in to watch the movie I’ve probably seen 6-8 times now. Truth to tell it’s not my favourite movie, but I enjoy it greatly every time. I love Bill Murray, and the Scrooge story is classic – and done with some novelty here. And it has some sentimental value for me now.

Every year is different. 365 days have gone by and all sorts of adventures, dramas, controversies and romances have come and maybe gone. You return to an annual viewing such as this with those most recent 365 days in you, and take in the movie seeing it through the prism of those events.

This last 365 days more than most have been full of stuff that had me watching intently. I felt myself sucked into the movie, with the Christmas ghosts – past, present and future – meaning much more to me than in the past.

It’s been a tumultuous few years. With mum now gone (though we set a place for her at Christmas lunch) the ghost of Christmas past is strong in all of us.

It’s different for the ghost of Christmas present. Here I am, sleeping under my sister’s dining table, tested like never before. Managing the situation is a day-to-day proposition much more difficult, and occasionally humiliating, than anyone could ever imagine. I don’t know the way out of this except by doing what I’m doing – setting short-term target and a longer term goal and trying to make my way there along a torturous and treacherous path. I do it alone.

Christmas future is another story again. I have no idea how it will turn out, except I know that there are a multitude of potential outcomes. I can’t remember ever being so uncertain about what is best or true or right. Like with Scrooge, my destiny is in large part in my hands. It starts now.

The Scrooge story ends well. Scrooge sees the error of his curmudgeonly ways; Bill Murray regains what he might have lost forever, and presumably lives happily ever after.

I have to say there were times watching I felt emotional or wistful. I wondered who there was in my past who could save me, but of all there have been (and some very close), the one person who came to mind was B, over 10 years dead now.

I felt my isolation in moments. My mother is dead. My father couldn’t care less. The relationship with my sister is strained by the fact that we are polar opposites. My nearest and dearest relationships are with my friends. They’ve been great, but they have their own lives, own families. On top of all this I have no sanctuary – there’s no peace sleeping under somebody else’s dining table. Rigby is the one constant.

This is the challenge of my circumstances. It’s a new year next year, and the only way is up. Life is not the movies. The next act in my life is not scripted anyway. There some things I know I must do, more now than before, for myself. For the rest I have to hope for happy endings just like in the movies.


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