Well now, one minute I was fretting about whether Father Christmas had managed to stuff Finn’s stocking with all that a nineteen year old man-boy could desire and the next, in the flash of a reindeer’s nose, it was over and I have oh too promptly reached the stage of the festivities when I would like a steamroller to come through the house and banish all elements of the season so I can hurtle into the new year!
It has been the quietest Christmas I have ever known. A jewel of a tiny holiday that was as perfect as it was lonely. A necessary loneliness that in-between Finley being in and out and a lovely evening spent in a friend’s cosy living room, I treasured, because it gave me opportunity to reflect on what my life looks like now. To examine, in a feast of Brie and Baileys, ( and a pile of absolutely gorgeous presents!), what the past year has brought and how it has changed me. For oh how changed I am now. Somehow stiller, more willing to sit with my feelings, as opposed to letting them flood out in a tumbly muddle of words as I have been so prone to in the past few months.
So yes. Christmas Eve was a happy riot of party games played in Starbucks with lovely friends and the exchange of Christmas Eve boxes later: for as I brought Finn’s out with a ta-da, he ran upstairs and came down carrying an all grown-up one he had made for me! We decorated gingerbread men, ate a heavenly meal in front of Gavin and Stacey repeats and then fell asleep on the sofa together both of us wiped out I think by the sheer effort of knowing that we were equally responsible for making the other’s Christmas as lovely as can be.
Overnight Santa filled the living room with a silly amount of gifts and because Finn now lives by the university clock, I crept downstairs by myself at first light and drank cinnamon tea while watching the wonderful Miriam Margoyles create a Dickensian Christmas, and opening a little pile of wrapped books I had been buying for myself over the past few months. The living room was glowing, the cat was wearing a dicky bow and all seemed well with the world. And then the noise came clattering down the stairs, the Bucks Fizz was popped and we were soon up to our eyes in wrapping paper, the neurodivergent fusspot in me having a festive duck egg as chaos reigned and opened presents piled up!
And so the day flew by. After taking it in to my head to leave the preparation of the vegetables to Mr Marks&Spencer, I narrowly avoided poisoning my resident Coeliac with a parsnip dressing that might just have ruined Christmas, then made enough stuffing to keep us going in to January, roasted far too many scrumptious potatoes, prepared our traditional Prawn Cocktail starter, set fire to the contents of the crackers (don’t ask: its a Christmas tradition around these parts!) and finally collapsed in front of the coffee table I had lugged in from the conservatory and piled with all manner of nuts and chocolate and rather excellent red wine. It was bliss and fun and relaxed and easy and being with my favorite boy was enough. Even if he did insist that watching Eastenders was a festive must…
Then Boxing Day came and he was spirited away by his Dad and I was alone. The debris of Christmas Day to be tackled and then after the cancellation of plans for that evening, the remains of the day all mine. So I read. And journaled. I watched a festive edition of Scooby Doo, as I am prone to when no-one else is watching, ate a salad jewelled with cranberries, seeds and blue cheese, pondered how much weight I had gained over the holiday (two pounds all in all – which is apparently what happens when I take my eye of the Macros ball!)), created a Vision board for the year ahead, and generally puttered about remembering why I have always treasured having the day after Christmas to myself for rest and rejuvenation purposes!
It wasn’t what Christmases have long been for me. But there was so much to be grateful for regardless. A walnut inlaid box filled with fortune cookies and vintage little somethings. A gorgeous box of Penhaligon’s candles. A set of lavender and sage bundles. A two tier box stuffed full of cosmetics, and another floral linen box in which to keep my lovely journals. Time to think. A house that seemed positively stuffed with all that spells blessings and abundance. A charcuterie board that made me swoon. A beautiful, tiny girl who has made my Finn smile when she agreed to be his girlfriend. A night sat with a dog I adore, her lovely head resting on my leg in a living room that strikes me as the cosiest place in the world, with Prosecco, dipping cheese and lovely conversation. Books, early nights, and peace in my heart at last after seven months of sorrow.
And now a New Year is almost upon us and it will be the first one I will spend without Finn safe under my roof. How little we understand what our absence means to our parents when we are young! A night I will spend with a lovely friend and Finn will spend singing Karaoke and enjoying his first, all grown Auld Lang Syne.
So yes. Peace in my heart now, for what is for us won’t pass us and I want to drift into 2023 trusting that life is doing exactly what it should and that the universe is quietly arranging all that should be without me needing to hustle it into place. I am tired of the hustle. This is the year I will let love wrap its arms around me, believe that I am capable of even more than I have so far challenged myself and give thanks every single day for all the joys that so often go unnoticed.
May you too be able to discern what matters in this life and have the happiest of New Years.x