Christmas was fast approaching and I found myself querying whether or not I felt ‘Christmassy’. The lead up to Christmas is usually a time I love; ice skating, Christmas markets, movies. December had started well, but half way through we were hit with the dreaded lurgy, and it proved difficult to shift. One toddler in hospital, myself with a burst eardrum, when Christmas week arrived we were completely disorganised and lacking in Christmas spirit. As I raced around, wrapping madly I pondered if I would feel Christmassy at all.
What do we actually mean by feeling Christmassy though? I suppose to me Christmas is all about the magic, that fluttery feeling in the pit of your stomach. The same feeling you get briefly at the end of a feel good movie, or show, or song. There was a time when I would have had that feeling for the whole of advent, nowadays, older, more stressed, it’s harder to come by.
It is easy enough to have a picture-perfect Christmas when things are going well. However, as soon as the family balance is disrupted it’s a lot harder to pull together to make things work. We live miles from relatives, who also work so are unable to always come to the rescue. So there we were, during the final weeks of term, rushing a sick little girl to the hospital as our eldest was being turfed out of school, and it was friends we had to turn to. In an hour of need it’s always remarkable the amount of people who do come running. Thankfully our youngest was just fine, but it was a weight off our minds knowing people were there for our eldest, to collect her, feed her and have her overnight, for as many nights as we needed.
Boxing Day night we finally rolled into bed exhausted, but triumphant, realising we had succeeded in pulling off a happy Christmas despite the mid to late December uproar. The presents had been bought (thank God for internet shopping), the wrapping had been done (no prizes for neatness), extended family had been visited and, albeit shattered, we served a small feast. It was then we saw that the Christmas spirit had been with us the whole time. It wasn’t in some Christmas Carol-esque display of magic, no bells and whistles, but in the warmth that came from those around us, willing to put their own holiday preparations on hold to help their friends. It was in the courage of a six year old, prepared to perform her nativity without her family in the audience because her little sister needed them (I’m grateful we made it in the end). It was in having normal family life stretched in all directions but sticking together, and coming out the other side stronger.
Without wanting to sound cliché, not wishing to quote lines from the end of The Grinch, but perhaps Christmas is more than looking for a short lived fluttery feeling of magic. As we approach New Years Eve, asking ourselves what 2018 is going to bring us, not knowing what may be the high points, and what may be the low ones, maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe there is no point in worrying about them, what will be will be, but instead simply be grateful for the friends that stand by us through the good and the bad. Be thankful for the family that can bale us out of disasters, and when the bad times are over, feel more resilient because you made it through it, perhaps not in one piece, but through it nevertheless.