Without Peter Combe, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me. I fondly remember the excitement of popping his classic Christmas tape in the cassette player, unboxing the tree and baubles and spending an afternoon happily arranging where all the red ones, and gold ones, and candy canes, and mini stockings would hang. It was in anticipation of the family get-together, the exchange of presents and the inevitable mounds of good food.
But this year, I’ve chosen to spend Christmas alone.
Many people instinctively recoil from the idea, but let me explain. My family are on the other side of the world; the press of a button away, in the world of the web, but too far and expensive to justify the flight back in the short window of time I’ve got. Friends in the UK have invited me to their celebrations, but it wouldn’t feel right.
Instead, I am spending Christmas with myself and my memories. Life in London hurtles along at a breakneck pace, a blur of work and socialising and commuting. I write blogs and read articles and eat and sleep and exercise and almost never just sit down somewhere comfortable and think.
So, in the days before and after Christmas, I’ve pressed pause. I’ve changed in so many ways in the past 365 days, learning, developing, sharing and understanding more about myself and the world I live in. The friendships I’ve had are different to any I’ve had before, perhaps because of new shared experiences or because I’m just changing with time.
I’m thinking back to the moments of my year, from the frivolous evenings throwing around a frisbee at Halls or chatting shit in pubs, to the worry of a friend’s serious injury or the stress of a thesis and new job. From showing my parents and relatives around London and exploring new parts of it with friends to the frustration of cold, short, grey days and crowded sidewalks. It all makes up another memorable year, and I feel like the experience deserves a few days to calm down and sink in to my mind.
I don’t like waffling on and pretending everything in the world is rosy. It’s not. People in other parts of the world are fighting for their freedom, or grappling with difficult circumstances. What we take for granted can be snatched in an unlucky moment or eroded so slowly we barely notice.
Right now, though, that’s not me. I have my health, friends and family; I am earning a living in a unique job and I am looking forward to a year in which my only fear is that the mundane will outweigh the extraordinary.
Wherever you are, I hope you have a great day, and I invite you to reflect on – and if you like, share – some of the moments that have made this year another meaningful one in your life.