Letter to Christmas ‘Let Down’

Xmas broken

Dear Fiend

This I remember:
It was Christmas day. I was seven or so. And I was curled up in a wet self pitying ball, upstairs on the bed, crying my girlish heart out.

My mother was being mean. She was angry because I wouldn’t eat the food she had made for Christmas dinner. I was a fussy eater and didn’t like most of the things on my plate…

So I was shouted at and sent away from the table with the things I actually wanted – the fizzy pop and the Christmas crackers and cake. My presents were taken off me. I was smacked and sent upstairs. Mean… Horrible… Not fair!

I was crying because Mummies are not meant to be mean on Christmas Day. Not that any one had ever told me that, but to my seven year old mind, she had definitely broken a real and sacrosanct rule… The same rule that applies on birthdays and other such high days and holidays. It seems that I have always had a sense of occasion, that I came into this world with my own ready little rule book. And now that book had red ink and tears all over it…

How strange that I can remember nothing else about that day, just me, crying alone – my memory now fixated on the anguished unfairness of it all, rather than the presents or what was on TV, or what I was wearing, or where my father and brother were.

I know that I was sent to my room, but instead went to my father’s bedroom, to cry alone on his bed, covered in his books and newspapers and now with me. Clearly my mother was no respecter of any rule book – for she had moved out of that bed long ago, too. Mean! Instead I had to share a room with her and since I hated her right then, and it was the only small rebellion I could wreak, I snuck into dad’s place instead.

So I had already created, expected and anticipated my Christmas Day… A day of gifts, of playing, of chocolate and of unalloyed seasonal happiness. Yet here I was, alone and sobbing salty tears. All my rules had been broken, stamped on, repudiated…

And my memory funnels in on that scene… Takes the plain pain and rolls it around, spiralling it into a blur of pity, anger and loathing. A memory of Christmas Past, hardly a happy yule tide Christmas card scene of carolling, chocolately warmth and wonder…

My mother never was a great respecter of my unspoken seasonal rules. At times it felt like she was on a mission to destroy and stamp out the seasonal glow, forgetting all about goodwill to all men, women and especially children… And following Christmas, I remember how New Years Eve was always marked by my parents, with a flaming, screaming row; which I listened to, sitting it out on the stairs and which I always blame, blame, blamed my mother for…

Now I see how the ball of expectation and emotion that is created around Christmas can explode like a broken bauble, sending white hot shards outwards like mis-directed fireworks, or indeed implode inwards, passing sharp shards of depression and grief into hearts, fed by the bonfires of what should and could be a special tide marked time. An anticipated seasonal glow, turned inside out to saturnal, pagan darkness.  And my parents, especially my mother, had no other known way of expressing the stress, of coping, of changing…

Suddenly I sit back from this fogged, festive focus and take note of what is going on with me…

Just lately… I have been tired and busy and changing the direction of my life… I have had an imagination of what Christmas is meant to be for me and how it will absolutely fail to add up to that equated expectation. So I dive into the depths of a warm, sludgey, familiar pit of self pity.  Then I swim around in its’ treacly waters, sometimes immersing myself deep down into it and then choking in its’ cloudy depths, and often grabbing hold of any one around me and trying to pull them in.  Or instead, scrabbling desperately back up the smooth sides, all on my own…

But then the light comes to me and I see a ladder – the way out of my woman sized bowl of pity soup, and suddenly I climb upwards, swiftly and smoothly; then once up and over the rim, I start to focus differently…

I see this all the time, with friends who dread this time of year and all the effort it involves. All the choosing, wrapping, cooking, visiting and social compliance. I see it with clients who have associations of loved ones lost, and the feeling multiplied by having to relive the seasonal associations of the original trauma.

And I see me – since the tired, dark part of my brain tells me I lack and I want and there is a dearth of all that is dear to me.

But that doesn’t add up. I have so much. I live a crazily amazing life. I admit that it is not exactly where I want it to be right now, but so what?! My brain had blinded me to the actual brightness of my life and led me back into my habitual pattern of woe.

So I repeat to myself the litany of love that I have learnt – to choose to see the light, even when I can’t feel it. To explore the facets and features of what I have and who I am. To celebrate what I done, every step I have taken, every word I have uttered – good, bad or indifferent. To be grateful for everything that has bought me to this time and place – yes, grateful for everything.

And so too it follows that I can create my own Christmas – to revel in it, and plan for it to Santa suit me. And in suiting me – being happy and fulfilled – I get to share the true glowing spirit of Christmas, and be at my simple best and show the shine to those around me too.

So then I remember who I really am and what I have really got, and then too, I can remember who I was, at another past point in time…

This means that I can turn the direction of fate and recollection and re-spin it into something new for the me of now, since the fussy childhood eater that hated her food and got into trouble with her mother, loves Christmas feasts – loves preparing, sharing and eating them.  So I am in no longer ‘in trouble’ with the mother that isn’t here any more – to shout or to smile…

As I started with a childhood Christmas memory, so shall I end my letter on one too…

I was five years old…  It was the only Christmas Day I can remember, in all my life, where snow lay on the ground…

The family walked to church to celebrate Christmas and enjoy the spectacle of the newly fallen snow… My elder and longer legged brother strode ahead on the urban pavements of our early life, whilst I ran in fast, small steps, trying vainly to catch up with him, and knowing too that my parents were safely in sight behind me.

In the snow I could clearly see tracks and decided that they were made by Santa Claus and his reindeer. I had on my smartest dress and my only coat and crunched through the sparkling morning snow in my wellington boots. Inside the church, with its’ festive flowers and organ music, I sang and prayed along with the Barbie doll that Santa had bought me only that morning. My beautiful, well dressed companion was enjoying all my attention as I held her proudly in front of me. When we sat to listen to the sermon, I folded her limbs neatly onto my lap, in to a right angle of complicity. And later when we got home, the beautiful purple shoes and neat little handbag that adorned her slim, blonde Barbie self, would soon be lost, along with the happy memory of that day.

Lost and now re-found – my newest recalled old memory. And with a happier, lighter heart, I choose that memory, the shining spirit of Christmas past, rather than its’ darker, shadier ghosts…

It is time now to expect and accept my Christmas, so that from ‘Let Down’, I ‘let go’ instead – to a cliché of love, life and of course, Christmas…

With Mistletoe kisses, from

       Sandra

A forgetful, remembering believer… xXx

PS: As Christmas comes round and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together, along with with new material, in book form.  It makes the perfect present, for you, family and friends… You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), and from all good book websites around the world…

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