I get a little sentimental at Christmas.
Something about this time of year – the deep darkness, the long Northern European nights, countered by the the antidote that comes with fairy lights, fires & candles – makes me feel quiet and reflective always. December is a point I take stock. No resolutions or fast decisions – just time to say: where are you now?
Christmas comes but once a year and that fixed point offers me a chance to remember. I conjure up ghosts of Christmases Past. People. Places. Moments. And as each one arrives, I say hello. I remember.
I remember that I forget.
Sometimes it feels melancholic, other times there is comfort in drawing forward those things I knew and know differently now.
And then there is raucousness – the riot of activity that happens, the storm before the calm. Getting stuff done. Madly writing Christmas Cards. Making reams of paper chains. Deep breaths before crowded shopping jaunts. Driving in the darkness, singing Christmas songs at the top of my voice from the playlist that is hauled out annually. The yearly “Christ what do I buy the kids?” text to Sisters in Law & Godparents. Glasses filled with fizz. Catching up with beloved friends and colleagues. Bad dancing in the kitchen. End-of-evening single malt – savoured, but still I hear my mother tutting about Women who drink Whisky. “German” Christmas markets & clutching gluwein in cold hands. An old Santa hat, purchased on Oxford Street whilst on the way to a party one evening, is pulled out of it’s usual “squashed in a bag with the Halloween witches hat & the Tartan Sash that gets donned on Burns Night” spot. Pathologically checking my diary weekly, daily, hourly as a sense that I’ve missed something, have forgotten something haunts me…..
And yet, it is when I’m out walking that I most feel the winter and I love this dark, empty time of year. Wind whipping my face, dog covered in mud and I stomp, often starting in darkness, moving into the morning light or beginning in twilight and coming home in the gloom. Bare trees giving sight to things obscured by foliage in summer. Grey/ blue light on the landscape. A welcome flash of red from a robin. That sense of everything sleeping. Of being on pause. Wrapping myself up in so many layers, I end up roasting hot. The instant runny nose & rosy cheeks like a 5 year old that happen as I walk through the door of my house.
I’ve had my run of unsettled Christmases of late. As I walk, I recognise this one is shaping up to be so much less so. For that I am truly thankful.
As I take stock of the year, I think of my family, the friends who support me and remind me of all I can be, the colleagues who challenge and push me, the clients who allow me to work with them, who think with me, who enable me to get creative and puzzle stuff out. Sometimes it feels the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but when I look around at the people in my life, I feel less afraid, more hopeful, more equipped.
So here is to all the joys you can find in the darkness. I wish you the very best the season can offer you. Make light, create light, as and when you can. Only in darkness do any of us appreciate it fully.