Festive sorrow

I decided to spend Christmas on my own this year. Not as easy as you might think. Well-meaning friends double checked that I really meant it and I realised that I needed to invent a narrative for all those people asking, ‘what are you doing for Christmas?’ Casual acquaintances were told I was with friends, friends were told the truth, that as I couldn’t be with Mum (no trains or b and b), I’d rather be on my own.

The thing is this time of year is hard for anyone who’s not full of Christmas spirit. And it’s hard to manufacture when it takes you straight back to a sad or difficult time in life. I texted the friend whose husband died on Boxing Day; not an easy text to write, just that I was thinking of her. She got straight back to me. Another pal told me that Christmas would never be the same since her mother died just afterwards. A friend is looking after his very frail and elderly parents, aware that they might not have another Christmas together.

And for those of us living with life-limiting illness, things aren’t simple either. I’m glad to still be here, of course. But not in the mood for tinsel and turkey and general jollity. Got the tree out but couldn’t face putting it up so distributed decorations and tinsel round the room.

Been a bit rubbish with the Christmas cards this year too. Spent most of the last two days in bed, not depressed but emotionally exhausted. Remembering how very ill I was at this time a couple of years ago, running the scenarios through my mind yet again. And ill again last Christmas with bad bronchitis. So I didn’t even get to church, it would seem hypocritical at the moment as God and I are not the best of friends.

Lay in bed and listened to some excellent radio, read, slept and eventually got up mid-afternoon. Took some calls and texts from friends and relatives. Watched some decent telly, ate some pretty wonderful smoked salmon sandwiches and that was Christmas done.

I went out today to get a paper and the world seems to be full of people coughing and sneezing. The few cafes and restaurants open were rammed. I stopped in to have a coffee and the young woman serving me was coughing like a consumptive out of Dickens. Came home and disinfected my stick and myself and hoped for the best.

Today I’ve been cooking up a storm for some pals coming to lunch tomorrow – gammon, cranberries and trifle. The house is filled with Christmas smells and I’ve been writing a few cards and wrapping presents for said friends.

So tomorrow will be a sociable day, just don’t expect singing and dancing. And be aware of all those people who are emotionally drained by this time of year.

Oh and if you have a cough, please don’t feel the need to share.

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