Next Christmas

For those who aren’t wondering I’ve decided not to take up my aunt’s offer of spending Christmas day with them. More than likely that means I’ll spending the day alone with Rigby.

When I’m asked what I’m doing for Christmas I tell a white lie and trot out the usual family story thing. I’m not embarrassed by it. In fact it’s something that seems to embarrass others more than it does me. I understand in a way. On the face of things spending Christmas by yourself seems kinda lonely and pathetic. It’s not how I feel though. This is my choice. If I wanted to I’d be spending the day with the 15-20 others I’ve been invited to be with – I’ve chosen not to because it feels more right.

I know if I put it around that this was happening I’d probably get other invitations – but that wouldn’t be right either. I have very particular notions and memories of Christmas. It was a special day because I was at the centre of a very loving family. I was with the people who wanted to be with me. We all shared in this.

That’s the thing, for me anyway. I could pretend and go along, but it wouldn’t be the same. Fact of the matter is no matter who invites me I’m going to be on the edge of things. I’ll be watching them celebrate their family Christmas and it’ll be nice and sweet and I’m dead set certain they’ll bend over backwards to make me a part of it – except I won’t be, and know it. It matters as much that I’m there as it matters that I’m not, and that sums it up.

Now that’s nothing about being bitter or sad. I accept it for what it is, and understand it entirely because I spent most of my life celebrating those lovely family Christmas’. There’s an essence of that which maybe you only understand when you don’t have it anymore. It’s a sense of loving inclusion and shared joy, mixed with anticipation. There’s a ready smile on your face because you’re partaking in a ritual rich with family lore and tradition. You know how it goes, and that’s half the charm of it. It’s so entirely predictable in its way, but lovingly so – and you’re a part of it. You’re a piece of the ritual.

There’s no possibility of replicating that in my circumstances now, so for me there’s no point trying to pretend otherwise – and there’s an argument the trying to only makes the absence keener.

And if that’s not good enough for you the sheer logistics mean I can’t get there.

I’ll be doing things leading up to Christmas, but the day itself I’ll celebrate it by myself, and I sort of look forward to it. I’ll cook up the Christmas fare and crack a bottle of bubbles and get half tanked having a total slob day like I never do. And I’ll remember things, and I’ll reflect.

Last year it was sad; this year it will be different. I’m on the way back, and I have big plans. This is a moment. Next year is next phase, and next Christmas a different story.

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