It’s in my head, as I figure out what I need to buy and do. It’s also in my heart, as I think about how I want it to be. It’s all a bit tiring, mostly because, hello, it isn’t here yet. And if you find yourself berating yourself 'cos you don’t feel Christmassy yet, that might just be because, hello, it isn’t Christmas yet.
Or is it?
I wonder what Christmas will be like in a hundred years’ time. I have a funny feeling that this extended commercial and emotional preamble will actually become Christmas itself. By the time the day itself arrives, we will be so exhausted by ordering and planning and anticipating everything that there will be nothing left to do but crash out on the couch with a sherry. We seem to be 50% there.
Who am I kidding? We’re there already.
I love Christmas. Mostly I love how I stop work in or around the 22nd December and don’t go back until 2nd January. For many years, it’s been the only annual break I take that lasts for more than a day or two. The Yule time, for me, is generally a time of being closeted-up and insulated from the rest of the world. A time for family. A time to find a boxset to binge on or a miserable, unseasonal book to get buried deep into. This year is most definitely not going to be any different. This year, though, there will also be lost days of visiting and meeting with extended family and I will miss those days greatly. But we’ll be okay, locked up here together. It won’t be all that different from the norm.
It’s around now that I generally get ‘present anxiety’. No, that’s not me being anxious about the present situation, it’s me worrying about what stuff I need to get for people. Four weeks out starts to feel desperately late and the over-riding sentiment is that something really must be done. Except it won’t be. Not for another week or two. Still, the mind will get working on the problem and that’s the main thing.
I do realise how lucky I am. As a little family, we will get to be together for Christmas (touch wood and God willing and anything else that might keep things all right). I know this will not be the case for so many families, this year, and my heart goes out to those who really need to be a particular someplace, with a particular someone, and yet cannot be.
If it’s any consolation, when we lived in London, we used to come home every Christmas and used to look forward to it so much and, in truth, I used to need it a bit. But, one Christmas, for ‘reasons’, we stayed in London and didn’t come home. Truth to tell, it was one of the best Christmases ever and I will never forget it. So if you can’t make the home thing happen this year, know that next year will be even better for missing out and try to make the best you can out of where you need to be. I think you might surprise yourself at how nice it could all turn out. I hope so anyway, I really do.
You’ll have guessed by now that this is one of those weeks where I don’t have a lot of tangible stuff to write about. I generally try to scribble something on something that has exercised my brain in the week-gone-by and I guess I’m pretty-much doing that. Christmas is in my head now and it’s creeping into my heart. The break, the insulation, the joy of everything normal and everyday stopping for a while. ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ on the telly at eight in the morning. A bumper Radio Times. A muddy woodland walk. Chocolate. A good movie. I look forward to these things and the other things of the season too.
There’s always a price to pay for Christmas. January is often dark and a little bleak. This year has all the portents of being even more dull than usual. But we’ll weather it. By then, Spring won’t be far behind and, with it, we can cheerfully expect a brighter dawn. We can fix our eyes on it, even if we have to squint a bit to see it.
I won't wish you a happy Christmas yet because, hello, Christmas isn’t here yet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t wish yourself one. I’m definitely wishing one for me.
And I’ll definitely wish you one... when the time is right.