Christmas is an odd thing.
I mean, less so, I suppose if you’re Catholic or a Christian denomination but for me, an at-best-agonostic, who works in retail, with a long history of shitty Christmases, I find it a bit odd.
I worked today – it’s Boxing Day – except it isn’t. Because you can’t have a bank holiday on a Saturday, so we have Monday off. And we were open today. Some of my colleagues have been trying to explain it to customers by saying Saturday isn’t Boxing Day, Monday is, but this just caused a lot of confusion. I just went with the classic “we’re open Boxing Day,” and that seemed to work better.
Before I moved back to Wales, I used to work either Boxing Day or New Years Day. I wasn’t bothered which, I spent most of the holidays drunk back then, sobered up enough for work and then got drunk again. I still struggle a little with the holidays a little because of how bad it used to be, because I can still remember that misery and I still struggle with that misery.
Even though I am happy now. Misery, depression, and happiness can co-exist.
Plus I struggle with my family at Christmas, or a continued lack of it. But I struggle with my family anyway. It can be so hard to get them to do anything, and I’m so different from most of my family (except my mum, which means we’re both a bit anti-social at times presenting a different problem). It seems like it’s a bit of a fight to get to spend any time with them, and sometimes it bugs me and sometimes it doesn’t. It depends really. As the years go by and I am more secure in my mental health, I find myself wanting to reach out to them more and I know my wife struggles with it too, because her family is so far away and spend a lot of time together. My mother lives 2.5 miles up a hill and I swear I can go weeks with seeing her or speaking to her.
I actually go to church at Christmas. Not because I suddenly feel the urge, or because I suddenly find God year after year for a day. I go because my wife goes. She has faith, she believes. And I believe in her. I love her and support her and respect her. Religion and all. I don’t pray, I don’t sing, I don’t received a blessing. I can’t receive communion (I’ve never been christened). I sit and listen and usually ask a lot of questions of my wife when we leave.
This year I cried.
This year I cried, calmed down and cried all over again.
The service wasn’t great, the vicar had a good idea but struggled to come back to his central point. But he did make me cry. He mentioned a quote from Educating Rita that resonated with me:
“When I listen to poetry and music, then I can live. You see, darling, the rest of the time it’s just me. And that’s not enough.”
That was me once. I had poetry and writing, filled my life with books and tv and fanfiction and fandom and music and alcohol. Even drugs at one point. But when I went to bed it was just me, and it wasn’t enough. My friend Kirsty was the same. But I found myself, found a way to be happy and Kirsty didn’t. Kirsty was 19 when she killed herself but even religion wasn’t enough for her. Because she believed and went to church and had God but it still wasn’t enough.
I cried because it reminded me of her, of that, of Kirsty being gone before she was even an adult. I cried because it seemed to unfair, that I am here and she is not. That she believed and I do not and I didn’t think I deserved a blessing on Christmas Eve, regardless of the fact that I don’t believe.
Christmas was good though. I enjoyed it, I had Christmas eve off too, so I could finish up a last minute present for my nephew and then see my sister and the kids to give them their presents. Dinner was amazing, I got some cool stuff, spoke to my dad, saw my mum (briefly – she woke me up). Watched tv, played video games, ate a lot of food – including the most amazing potatoes ever. And don’t ask me for the recipe. I wash, I don’t cook.
Today there is Reece’s cheesecake, though, I ate too much dinner (which was just as delicious the day after) so it may have to wait until tomorrow (and it’s already twenty to eleven).
I like it though, my quiet odd little Christmas. It slowly becomes part of us, part of the family my wife and I are building together – with our cats, our chickens and our hamster.
I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas.
New Years is an entirely different struggle.