I’m lying on the sofa, under one of those mock-furry blankets. It’s dark, and cold, outside, but I’ve left the curtains open a bit so I can see the Christmas tree in the house over the road. It’s not particularly light, or warm, inside. I have the heating on low, and I’ve only turned on one lamp. I’m listening to Tom Waits. I am alone.
I can hear families walking back from the town centre, where they have been Christmas shopping. A mother shouts to her children, “Come on, hurry up, all these bags are heavy”. Then two children, laughing and singing Christmas songs out of tune and out of synch. I like to think they are all happy, going back to bright, warm homes, bursting with sparkly bauble hung trees and brightly wrapped gifts.
I can’t fully explain to you my blues. They may come from being an atheist, or being single. But I’m quite miserable about the whole winter/Christmas thing. It is dark and cold, and when you put those baubles away on the 6th of January, all that dark and cold is still there – slowly getting lighter, slow day by slow day. There’s going to be another three months before there’s anything really worth celebrating. On this Saturday December afternoon, I’m just imagining the red warmth of the sun on my face while I sit in my rose filled garden in June.
But my winter is spent retreating. I listen to the other girls in the office, constantly moaning – it’s all about gift shopping, or dinner cooking, or seating plans, or new clothes for a drinks party. Someone’s boyfriend just dumped them, and she’d already bought his present. Someone has to drive 100 miles on Christmas Eve to see their elderly Gran in hospital. Someone’s a vegetarian and has to take their own nut roast to their in-laws. I don’t join in the chat. Their Christmas holidays sound like an effort, more work than going to work.
When Christmas Eve comes, I’ll make sure I have enough food for hibernating, but not so much I throw half of it away. I have a pile of books from the library I want to read, I must prune the roses, and I’ve bought a tin of those assorted chocolates. Sometimes it’s good to be like everyone else.
I imagine a bauble falling off a tree during the dark of the night, and slowly rolling across the floor, and being lost under the dark of the sofa. No-one will miss it.