How often, when you've asked a friend or colleague about the kind of Christmas they spent do you get the reply 'Quiet.'? Or 'It was just the family.' Or even 'There was a huge argument.'
I have a theory that many of us have this image in mind of the exciting Christmases other people are enjoying - cocktails, sparkly dresses, friends and neighbours dropping by, the perfectly decorated tree, house and table, immaculately chosen and packed presents, the perfectly cooked lunch, the wonderful buffet snacks served by a serene and polished host and hostess. All heavily fueled by advertising and social media. And I'm not knocking that. I love the shiny adverts and shop displays,with their lavish escapism and the promise of sparkle and glitter to lift a dark and depressing time of the year. And a lot of us achieve some of that perfection, some of the time. But on the whole life, unfortunately, is a lot messier. The over or under-cooked turkey, the warring relatives, the hectic last minute rush and scramble. We've all been there. The point where 'Quiet.' looks like an excellent idea.
Life. Much messier.
And a lot sadder. There are wars and suffering that never seem to end, but at the moment I'm thinking closer to home. Of the empty place at the table where a loved one used to sit.
Last Christmas was probably the most stressful I have ever experienced. Actually there was no Christmas. The food was bundled into the freezer, the presents into the spare bedroom. They didn't come out again until March.
This Christmas will be one of the saddest, I have spent.
For all those who will have an empty place at their table this year I wish you good memories and healing and hope for the future.