Oh what a year it has been. Some people have found it annoying, disappointing, disturbing, others have found positivity in the slow of pace, and the time and space they have. For some though, 2020 has seen them in desperate times. Loneliness, hunger, money troubles, redundancies, business closures, lack of education, lack of access to NHS services and treatment, feeling distant from friends and family, fear, anxiety, depression, grief are what many have experienced. These are people who are not having a great time; and not joining in the festivities through either not wanting to, or not being able to. For as much as the twinkle lights and decorations are up earlier than usual, and many people have gone all out this Christmas being desperate to celebrate something, we really need to be mindful that for many this time of year is not good, and this year particularly is no exception.
It isn’t for me to say whether people ought or ought not to meet up together over Christmas. My personal take is that Covid hasn’t gone anywhere and certainly isn’t aware it should be taking a 10 day holiday. I won’t be meeting up with family. For us, as for many, we can’t take this risk.
I’ve done much thinking of late, about my own personal circumstances, the family and in general about so many others. I think about just how shitty a time it is. My mum is not only living with one chronic illness, but two. MS we thought was bad enough, but battling cancer as well means she’s having a pretty shitty time, not just now, but for several years. So many I know are struggling with serious health issues, having ongoing treatments; awaiting news of treatments; waiting to be seen as appointments are regularly delayed and cancelled; worried sick about what the future holds for them. They’re having a tough time.
Four years ago, on 21st December, I buried my son. Thoughts of his death; thoughts of his funeral will haunt me forever; this time of year is not easy for myself, Justin and the boys with so many thoughts and memories of that horrendous time permeating pretty much all we do. We miss Edward terribly, and to not have him here this, or indeed any Christmas is so desperately sad. Of course, we have to smile through it all, making the best of it we can, trying our hardest to make it special for the boys, and give them beautiful memories … but it’s so very hard.
Those who follow my writing, and my latest pieces will be aware of the advent course I attended, and the many thoughts and reflections it provoked. Sitting here, I thought I’d write down some of these thoughts into an acrostic. I see so many Christmas acrostics, all about happiness, and presents, twinkle lights, and tinsel; but in this festive period we need to think about so much more. Amongst the overspending and overindulging we do, let us allow the Christmas message to shine through, and be mindful of so many and so much as we go through this festive period:
C is for CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS, and the COUNTDOWN to the New Year. We’ve had a tough old year and people are glad to see the back of 2020, wishing and hoping for some normality resuming as we go into 2021. So much has been CANCELLED or put on hold due to COVID, and this Christmas time, we may not have as many round the table for Christmas lunch, but spending time with our family is special time together, let us spare a thought for those not able to be with their loved ones, because of Covid rules, or because they have lost loved ones.
It’s COLD, and wet, and pretty miserable out there. I know what a relief it is to get in from the cold when I’ve battled the elements on a walk or out on the school run. Imagine … just imagine you can’t get out of the cold, and the doorway of a shop is your bedroom, your dining room, your sitting room, even your bathroom. Imagine. Let us try to help those out on the streets, starved cold; starved hungry. Those who are struggling financially who are choosing between feeding their families and putting the heating on; and those elderly who try to eke out their pensions by not putting the heating on, wrapping themselves in more blankets, going to bed earlier to save them putting the heating or lights on. Let us CARE.
H is for those who are HUNGRY; those who are HOMELESS; those HOPING for better things. Let us try and listen to those in need, so we may respond accordingly. Let us HELP, no matter who asks, without judgment, without prejudice, and without seeking reciprocation or thanks.
R is for REFUGEES, seeking sanctuary; desperate to flee from places of danger. We think not only of those escaping their own country in the hope of finding safety and care in other countries, but we also look closer to home and think of those who are victims of domestic abuse, seeking refuge. R is for REDUNDANCIES, those who have lost their jobs, and those whose businesses are struggling, or have been forced to close.
I is for ISOLATION. Those who are isolating at home; shielding themselves from the danger of Covid in the outside world, staying safe in the sanctuary of home; yet feeling isolated, particularly those who are on their own, but not forgetting those who are with others, and yet still feeling as though they are prisoners within their own home.
S is for SICK. Those who are living with illness, physically, mentally or emotionally, visible or non-visible; S is for the SUFFERING they face whether through pain, or torment. They may have been STRUGGLING and battling with illness, for a short time, or for many years, they may even only just be processing a diagnosis. Let us be there for them.
T is for TREATMENT. So needed by many; those who are unable to access health services, operations cancelled, appointments delayed, scans long awaited; Covid or NHS financial pressures preventing this from happening. We thank the scientists who have worked so hard on the vaccines for Covid, and that there is hope now that the vaccines are beginning to be rolled out for all.
M is for MUSIC, AND MY JOURNEY. The carols we sing not only cheer us, but also others. On Sunday, I will join some others in singing some carols for the folks in a local care home, and William will play his trumpet, in the hope that this will bring some joy to the residents. My journey through life has thrown me many challenges along the way. As I reflect on my many experiences, and the values and beliefs I hold, I am more mindful as to who I am, and who I need to be.
A is for ACTION. Let us ACTIVELY listen to those in need, and be AWARE of what we need to do.
S is for SELF CARE. Let us take time to look after ourselves. SELF CARE is not self indulgence. Let us take time out: time to be, time to recharge, time to heal, time to rest, so that we are able to be there for others.
I send my love and wish everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas, and I hope that we may all extend warmth and love to anyone in need; and let us amidst everything which is going on, remember the true meaning of Christmas.