Christmas Is Different. In Parts.

Different is not always good, but different is what we have now.

Christmas used to be held upstairs. It is now held downstairs. As children, and even until as recently as five or six years ago, we would all gather around my mum and dad’s bed to open presents. We started getting a bit old for that.

Now we have it in the living room, and for the first time ever last year, my gran came around. Seems strange that she never had before now, she only lives around the corner. Seems really obvious with hindsight, but as usual she didn’t want to be a burden.

This year the quirks of the calendar fell in such a nice way that realistically I had three days off from work before “proper” Christmas began. But I forever tell myself, Christmas is more than a day. So now we’ve reached proper Christmas. But prior to this we’ve been listening to Christmas songs all week, even last weekend attending a Christmas carol concert, wrapping presents, writing cards, visiting people out of the blue. It’s been a full on attempt to make it feel like a really good part of the year with lots of things going on. I have enjoyed it all the more. A little bit different.

J and I blitzed (well, sort of… J doesn’t put huge physical efforts in due to his various illnesses) the office and the house prior to leaving. It didn’t feel like work, but it went fairly well. Things will now be less stressful when we return. We will be able to come back and not worry about the shit tip that is our office. It was starting to become embarrassing when customers visited. J stressed, just like he does every year, that we were doing too much and we should be relaxing, and that we need to leave immediately for my mum and dad’s house, from which I now write this dull reflection.

Another difference this year, I finally met J’s dad and stepmum. It was a chance encounter that came about deliberately. J hasn’t seen his dad for nearly four years. It was time to break the ice, and it was broken via a joint “celebration” of the anniversary of his mum’s death. It was all tragic and sad, as usual, attending the cemetery, but afterwards his dad seemed like it was his best Christmas ever. He was a nice man, and I’m glad to have met him. It all seemed a bit weird and bit awkward, and for some reason I still have this horrible buried part of my psyche that really struggles with being openly a couple in front of others. I doubt I’ll ever get over it. It’s like exposing a dark secret and awaiting people to judge you on it. I suppose I must get over it soon. In reality I don’t think people give a shit. His stepmum seemed as bad as I thought she would be based on what he told me. But it’s over now, and it might get easier…

Different this year too, my brother has lost his job… which is sad because he doesn’t seem to get anywhere in life. He doesn’t get any breaks at all.

Also different – there is a guinea pig next to me squealing away asking for its breakfast. Poor thing.

But mostly, things are the same. I am actually quite grateful of that… I think. My mum and dad are here and OK. Less ill than last year. My brothers are still distant. My older sister is getting on with her life and her family. My younger sister is getting married next year. We’re all jsut getting on with it.

And we’ve had a nice Christmas Eve. No Midnight Mass to wind people up (that is different) and since we got here early we’ve been able to sit around relaxing, listening to music, watching crap TV and laughing and joking with this little portion of the family that’s here. It’s been really nice.

It was nearly time for bed (having made it to midnight, again, very different for me. I thought I’d look in my work e-mails for the final time for a few days at the end of yesterday. Nothing of interest, except someone e-mailing, replying to a quote I had sent three months previous, asking when I would be available over Christmas to carry out a job I’d valued at £10.

Why, I wonder, did this person thing that I might be reading my e-mails at 6pm on Christmas Eve. Why did they think I’d make myself available over Christmas for a shitty £10 job? It’d probably need to be worth more than £1000 for me to even reply. And why… after waiting for three months to reply, did she do it on Christmas Eve?

Some things will never be different.