I've been wondering what to write as a Christmas blog- post some crafts, pontificate on the new year ahead or give you a run down on all the things that have gone right for me this year? I did that 'Year in review' on facebook and it came up with marvellous stuff- it looked like my year had been one long run of successes and pats on the back. It was all LOL and 'likes' and brimming with positivity.
I decided not to post it as a status because I didn't want to depress my friends with the fabulousness of Fifi. Like those awful Christmas summaries people send out of their year complete with their photos of amazing holidays and Dux of School teenagers. You ball those up and throw them at the wall. It's particularly hard to feel joy for others perfect lives when your own has been sucked dry. I know, I've been there- we all have at some point and then we keep silent and tired, becoming bitter and resentful until it's etched into our faces and bends our backs.
My year in review, so carefully crafted by the facebook app didn't mention the pit of despair I went down early in 2013 for not getting shortlisted for book awards, picked for residencies and for work opportunities evaporating almost as soon as they had materialised. Or the operation our son had and his jobless recovery, or the work situation my husband had endured and hated so much he dragged himself home like a grey ghost every day, wondering where his dreams had gone. The financial uncertainty our family had juggled for far too long, the transitioning of elderly parents into retirement living, the landslip in our garden, the Wellington Parking wardens...at some point I lost the will and the energy to tap dance my way through. What saved me from myself were caring friends, thoughtful colleagues and supportive family. I feel gratitude every day for those people.
So this Christmas, look around you. Is there someone in your life who is struggling? Don't give them a set of novelty pillowcases- look after their kids so they can sleep. Don't just feed them slabs of ham and mince pies (although those are delicious) nourish them with a hug and a kiss. Forget the gym membership voucher- they will never go if they are down; it's literally impossible to summon up the will, even though the exercise will help. Take them for a walk instead. Buy them a coffee on the way back. Tell them they are loved and that without them, your life would be smaller. Don't give advice; listen. That's a gift too. Be kind- it may be the nicest thing you'll ever package up and leave under the family tree.