Tis the season to be Jolly.

Who said that?
Christmas has been weighing on my mind for the last few weeks, in early December as the adverts kick in and the Christmas trees appear my discomfort ratchets up with each additional day of the Advent calendar.

For the last three years I have escaped it entirely. For two years in India, then last year I decided that if I went to a Muslim country I could avoid Christmas all together. Plan perfect, until the unwanted Christmas gifts found me even there, food poisoning of a particularly draining nature, detail I am sure unrequired. And sod it all even in Marrakesh, in the hotel Foyer there he is, Father Bloody Christmas, the fat git, insisting that I have a happy time as the world falls out of my arse.

This year Christmas approaches, I am in London for the duration. Christmas will be all around me, how do I endure it? Like Scrooge bah-humbugging all the way? Or by putting up a front and pretending I am jolly and happy and positive. What is the best way to survive the season, by being a nasty old git, ignoring or doing my best to ignore it all?

My problem? Well, a mixture of things, I dislike the consumerism of Xmas, I feel it’s a mad rush to buy stuff, to consume and be consumed, that buying more stuff misses something more important. But the deeper reason that I have always felt of Christmas as the time to spend good times with friends and family, to celebrate, if you allow it. I find the reality or the idea of reality and family something I seem to have lost a sense of. Like Scrooge the ghosts of Christmas past lie in wait for me, I don’t want them to visit, but they come anyway. Scrooge shut himself off, it didn’t work, I don’t want to be Scrooge.

I see Xmas decorations & trees on the market, I want them to go away. I try as deliberately as I am able to ignore them, but they will not disappear.

I need a plan to escape Xmas, I will volunteer, yep work in a homeless shelter, or serve people Christmas dinners with The Salvation Army, or something like that, that will do it. What on earth could be a better way of spending Christmas than with people who have a really hard time of it, not like me, just a bloke struggling with minor issues that really do not matter. Help other people really suffering and then I will be doing something of use and feel better about myself in the process. Bloody great idea,Job done.

But then I realise, my motive, is simply to feel better with myself, its not about me helping other people at all, I would simply be trying to make myself feel better by doing something for others worse off. Helping others is a great thing to do, but if that motivation comes from a place where its about making yourself feel better then it is something else entirely, its giving by judgement and selfishness. To feel better through another persons unhappiness is destructive.

In Portobello market the Christmas trees stand, waiting to be taken home and decorated. I pass them by day after day, trying not to notice them, but they reach out and peck at me like Triffids, I know they are there. Shutting out this time of year just will not work, bollocks to it all, there has to be a different way.

I wander into a shop on Golborne Road, Christmas decorations and gifts in the window, I open the door and walk in, Christmas cannot be wished away.Then I see it, my tree, a bony twig really, bare and mock frosted, an idea begins to come together.

I buy the twig, I find some Christmas lights. I put together my little tree, I think about what is important to me, about the people that matter most to me. I write down their names on a sheet of paper. These people are the ones that I care about most, that I have deep feelings for or that I simply love now in this moment. I buy glass Baubles to hang from my twig, one for each name on the list. As I hang each bauble I think of that person, I wish them peace and happiness and love.

Scrooge slinks away, off to dwell in Christmas past, let him. That leaves space for Christmas present, for the people I love here and now, beyond that the world is all possibility.
I can say those two words, the ones I havent felt able to, I can mean them and find meaning in them.

Merry Christmas.

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