December is often a strange month as hundreds of people dash to the shops buying last minute presents and getting carried away with the hustle and bustle of bargain hunting and looking for unusual gifts for friends and family, not to forget the Secret Santa for peers and colleagues.
The air is chilled and excited children fill the grottoes while couples walk hand in hand. Romance and the smell of roasted chestnuts fill the air as the Christmas lights switch on and exhaust fumes from buses feel warm against freezing hands and rosy faces as the days draw ever colder and darker.
I am at home. Warm, dry and away from the festivities, I long to hear from my friends and neighbours about their experiences out in the busyness. What they have managed to find for those people who are hard to buy for and what different shops are selling. They tell tales of new condiments, cheeses, bargains and treasure all of which I find very exciting. I do love to get wrapped up in the excitement, to get carried away in my mind and imagine having to barge through the crowds to get those last-minute essentials. I yearn to be in the midst of it all, to feel I have bagged the most amazing things my loved ones can imagine. The reality of it is that I, like so many who are living in poverty, am unable to splash out on a big ‘do’. No one to go shopping with, no confidence to go it alone, no ability to climb to ceiling level to put up the decorations or dress the Christmas tree.
Those I hold close to my heart are asked to do as much as I feel comfortable to request, aware that there is a fine line between wanting to help and feeling taken advantage of. I am aware I am not fitted to any particular family unit and I am no-one’s priority. I love what people do for me and the very close friendships I have and I don’t want to scare people off. I am so lucky to have friends, neighbours and family who want to do nice things around Christmas time for me but I don’t want to get used to it in case they suddenly withdraw their relationship from me. The big anxious fear I dread comes over me every time something nice happens. I am used to doing things on my own or going without. I don’t want to allow myself to depend on people. I have coped with lots of grieving over the last few months, getting used to and liking so many carers, friends and neighbours who I get so close to, then they leave or move away, have a career change and can no longer keep in touch. I remember those I have lost over the years and wish to be with them again.
This is one reason why people struggle so much over Christmas. We remember what we had, what has gone and what we stand to lose in the future. And it is so flipping hard.
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