We get Christmas all wrong. I don’t mean that it should be a religious thing, I’m afraid I am entirely happy with the commercialism. Getting presents is great, giving presents is greater and there is a genuine magic in the air when we like sticking a tree in our living room and draping it in impossibly gaudy tat.
There is no other minute of the year when you’d register that tinsel exists. Can you even buy tinsel outside that so-very-brief Christmassy period of early September to late December?
I’ve just done exactly what I think is wrong. I got one beat into thinking of Christmas and I’m off puzzling about the past. I don’t think a vague wondering about tinsel supply and demand is especially wrong, but there is something inescapable about looking back. Maybe I’m just now old enough that what I mean is this: when you’re really young, Christmas is about presents and when you’re not, then Christmas is about pasts.
If something truly bad ever happened to you within earshot of a Christmas then it’s with you for every Christmas after it. You know this. Forever. If you’ve lost someone, your mind gets constantly pulled to the gap they’ve left. Christmas becomes this seething mass taking place at head height: sometimes you just have to duck down to get away from it, to make it stop.
Look back. Choose to look back. You can’t stop yourself looking back so go with it, go for it. Think about who you’ve lost and what. Change this from a time when you can’t breathe to a time when you celebrate who you had and what.
Just don’t do it for too long.
And hold my hand.