Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dreaming of a calm Christmas (Part I)

Did I ever tell you what happened last Christmas?

How I was rushing out the door to get to the hairdresser's on Christmas Eve and was madly trying to finish tweeting and retweeting #reverb12 posts? How I glimpsed a tweet condemning a particular user for using inappropriate images to gain more followers... and so I clicked on their profile to report them... and instantly went into shock? Because this tweeter was using images of child exploitation as their wallpaper?

How I staggered to the hairdresser's, winded and practically retching? How I sat down and tried to make small talk with the hairdresser (whom I had only just met) only to have her grunt with pointed disinterest at me? How she pushed my head roughly as she washed my hair and hurt my neck as she roughly towelled my hair dry? How I started at the wall, biting back tears, as she hacked through my hair, destroying all my curls?

How I walked home with a gaping hole in my heart and suddenly wondered where all my twitter friends had disappeared to? How one kind soul responded to my plea for help by pointing out the correct procedure for reporting inappropriate use of twitter and also comforted me with the "truth" that good would always prevail? And how I clung onto those words like a lifeline, even though I didn't really believe them? And how I said yes unreservedly to compassion, even though I would honestly not have blinked if the perpetrators of such a heinous crime died slow, lonely and agonising deaths?

And how I swallowed my pain and put on as brave face as I could for afternoon tea at my In-Laws' and stayed up late wrapping my little 'un's Christmas presents? The how I spent the night howling in my husband's arms for those little girls, not much older than my daughter, whose innocent smiling faces I could not erase from my fractured mind? How all I could think, on the verge of the happiest day of the year for my own daughter, was Who is looking after those girls?

How two days later, I was making my daughter's breakfast and absent-mindedly sliced my finger on a serrated kitchen knife? How I howled again with a different kind of pain? And how one minute I was sitting on the couch, clutching tissues around the wound, the next I woke to my husband calling 000? How apparently, I'd been talking one minute then the next my head lolled back and I started to snore with my eyes wide open? How the rest of the day was spent flattened by waves of nausea and a migraine that only throwing up seemed to fix?

And how all I could pray for, by the time New Year's Eve rolled around, was the quietest new year ever known to humanity?

And while my Christmases are not usually that dramatic (although the year before, my husband did manage to get hit by a car while crossing the road), I have realised that they are not often what I hope them to be. I love Christmas and look forward to it for ages! My mum always goes to a lot of effort to make it a really fun and festive time for our family, and I am keen to do the same for my children.

But since I have become a wife and a parent, and my responsibilities have at least doubled, I see how the festive season leaves very little space for me. And how I deeply yearn for this to be a calm and joyful and sacred time.

So, like anything worth striving for, this is going to take some planning and clear boundaries.


  1. Oh dear! That last Christmas sounds rough. I'm sorry that was your experience. My family often has difficulty with the holidays because people like to pass away during the holiday season, and I'll never forget a choir teacher telling me, "It's OK for it to be hard. The holidays often are even though we expect them to be filled with joy. Just below the surface, they're often a mass of hurt and unmet expectations. It's OK if you're not happy." And that lifted a burden for me.

    I'm going to have to be careful about the commitments I'm making during the holidays. I can already feel myself getting a few too many irons in the fire.

  2. This year will be NOTHING like last year. This year is going to be a proper merry Christmas, Kat!! x