I don’t know about you but I feel decidedly un-Christmassy right now and those who know me, know that this is unheard of!

As you’ve probably gathered, I am a positive person on the whole and both personally and professionally, I always try to look for the good in a situation, a lesson to be learned, a glimmer of hope. This year, Christmas is most definitely a struggle.

One of the things that I’ve realised (sorry if I’m a bit slow on the uptake on this one) is that for me, the run up to Christmas is actually almost more important than the day itself, the things that happen to punctuate the Christmas period then allow me to build on my enthusiasm for the day.

What do I mean by that? Well, as kids, you could feel the excitement mounting when the Christmas play or nativity was starting to be rehearsed – not necessarily because you enjoyed the production but it was the first signpost that Christmas was on its way. That combined with carol services, end of term lessons where you did very little and then trips to see Father Christmas & writing Christmas lists (god I started early with the lists) all set the scene for excitement.

My Mum always did a big house clean before Christmas and then the decorations (or declarations as I used to call them) went up and they were magnificent, breathtakingly beautiful. The Christmas food shop was done and we had all sorts of goodies we’d NEVER usually see other than at Christmas. The new frock would be bought, again, something that we’d never normally have. The joy of buying presents for those we loved was never a chore, it was fun and my Mum made it something to be proud of, always done with a kind & thoughtful heart.

We put out the mince pies and sherry for Father Christmas, listened to the church bells ringing Christmas carols and went to bed convinced we wouldn’t sleep……we did and awoke ridiculously excited on Christmas morning.

As an adult, I still had Christmas punctuation marks. Putting the decorations up the weekend after my birthday, the gift buying, the shopping trips with friends and mulled wine, listening to endless Christmas songs on the radio and wrapping presents whilst watching dreadful Christmas movies.

Then the best bit (well for me anyway) finishing work early, packing up the car with presents and food and glittery clothing and heading down the A303 towards home and Mum & Dad listening to Christmas radio and not caring that the queues past Stonehenge were horrific – it was Christmas. At Mum & Dad’s I was greeted with tea and mince pies or a large glass of wine and the biggest hugs ever. Christmas had truly begun.

Even when I married, the excitement of my husband finishing work and coming home for longer than a week, the Christmas drinks with friends at our local and then heading down to Devon to see my Mum & Dad. Punctuation marks for Christmas.

We just haven’t had that this year.

Time off over Christmas has usually been used to get things done that we don’t usually have the time for because he’s away – lockdown has changed all of that, I certainly don’t need to sort out my sock drawer again!! it almost doesn’t feel luxurious to have this time if you know what I mean?

So this year is different, what will we do without that punctuation, the usual things that signpost Christmas?

I finish coaching today and I will not be checking emails until I go back to work. I’m going to sleep when I feel like it, eat what I fancy, walk the dog & get plenty of fresh air regardless of the weather. We can watch rubbish TV, I’ll read loads of books and not feel guilty about any of it. I’m having a break from social media and scrolling and I will enjoy our house and all the “declarations”.  I will also appreciate how very lucky I am to be able to do all of those things!

Christmas is different, it’s not cancelled. As so many quotes that I have seen this last week have reminded us, some of the  things that are definitely not cancelled are LOVE, HOPE  and GRATITUDE.

Thank you to all those who have kept us going this year so far, I hope you get to rest up even for a little bit. I will be thinking of all those who have lost this year, my heart goes out to you and hope that you can find some tiny slithers of joy and to everyone else, I’d like to wish you a happy, peaceful and safe Christmas, I’ll raise a glass to you all and probably eat another very large piece of chocolate! See you on the other side!

Kate x