Christmas is impossible to pre-empt in a blog post. Far easier to reflect.
After a family Christmas Eve supper during which carols were sung (I hung back with the introverts all equally uncomfortable flexing our vocal chords in the presence of a familiar but otherwise uncritical audience), and a visit to our neighbour for drinks and nibbly-bits, the big day proceeded quietly and calmly. Efforts in the kitchen were deployed equally between myself and The OH, together, in consonance and without incident.
This combined with the subsequent benefits of actively adopting a low-key and pressure-free Christmas meant that for the first time in many years a blissful air descended on both of us. The Christmas spirit isn’t a construction nor is it a euphemism. Goodwill is a realistic mindset and one to strive for.
The effects of this sometimes euphoric state were down to a combination of my own thinking, some of which driven by conversations I had with family members over the Christmas break.
Underpinning the season, was an overwhelming desire to make sure that Yuletide excess was avoided. Pleasure can be derived from adopting a far more modest approach. Instead of buying in gratification, why not look for the pleasure in what you have already?
During a telephone call this evening, my 80-something mother told me this was a sign of maturity. A relief to hear given that I’m 46.
These conclusions arrived at about excess and modesty haven’t been arrived at because of my my independent working life either, it seems. According to one recently retired family member at the Christmas Eve gathering, it’s what countless new retirees have come to understand quickly after their working lives changed. It’s also what most freelancers fail to acknowledge as an aspirational value.
Within these redrawn boundaries new personal needs and wants are contained. Discovering what those needs and wants
So it has been over the past few days. A mixture of warmth, contentment and intense love for the people, things, and traditions that make life complete.
Expressing that provokes a rush that is difficult to contain (and handle). The experience is something akin to the third movement of Rachmaninov’s second symphony. All-encompassing beauty which can render me an emotional wreck, and has as a result seen me avoid the symphony altogether simply because I couldn’t cope with the intense emotion that pours from the score.
When you recognise what it is that’s important to you – the constituent parts of it – you simultaneously appreciate how fragile that happiness is.
At the same time, the white heat of such intense understanding forges something new: a determination to embark on a new path, a recognition of what’s possible, and a commitment to making it happen in some form or other.
If this is adulthood, then its long overdue.