• Michael Mclaren

F**k It. I’m Still Buzzing For Christmas.

Yikes..


Imagine someone had said this back in April?


Back when we thought we were 2 weeks in to a 3 week lockdown.


Bless us.


We didn’t know any better.

But it’s November now. The marzipan is on the shelves and I’ve just seen an advert on Twitter for a Michael Buble outdoor UK tour.

This is getting serious.

It’s Chriiiiiisstmaaaas!


But..


Not as we know it.


Despite sounding like a pretty cool tagline for some badass Festive thriller..


It’s perhaps, unfortunately, the reality we’re facing.


But you know what..


F**k it.


I’m still buzzing for it.


So buzzing for it, that I wanted to write about it…


Accepting


I often refer to conversations I’ve had with my counsellor. It’s where I feel a particular freedom and safety to literally say my thoughts out loud as soon as they arrive.

Often, I end up talking pure rubbish. Occasionally, I end up saying things that have me scrambling for my notepad.

Things to ponder and allow to develop through time.


One such conversation took place back at the tail end of April. There was a very gradual realisation that we were maybe a little naive in thinking we’d have a “normal” summer.

I remember talking about Christmas, and the possibility, despite how slight, that this wouldn’t be over, and I wouldn’t be able to simply trot over the border care free as I was so used to doing at this time of year.


A negative outlook? Probably a little.

But, it’s important for me personally to accept things. Otherwise I tail off into a frenzy of worry and sleepless nights. This was my way of dealing with those worries head on, in my own time.

That includes all possibilities.

If 2020 has taught me anything, and I mean anything, it’s that anything is possible.

It’s potentially heartbreaking really. It’s all I’ve wanted through all of this. It’s still all I want.

And even considering, for only a second, that it might not turn out that way is, well, devastating.


The easiest way for me to manage today, to manage right now, is to be ok with all and any possibilities and outcomes being on the table.

I’m sure I won’t be alone.


Let’s face it though, when we really boil it down. We’ll be ok either way. I’ll be ok either way.


There is, unfortunately, the possibility, no matter how slight, that it may not happen.


And my own way of managing my own mental state with that, is to accept those are on the table.

As much as I accept those possibilities, it’s important also to not cling onto either one just yet.


I don’t want to come across all pessimistic, so I’ll balance it out by saying there’s also the very real possibility that everything will be just fine and I’ll have what I imagine will be the best Christmas I’ve ever had.


The way I see it, is that whether I’m ok with it or not, things will turn out the way they want to turn out for the most part. I have very little control really, in the grand scheme of things.


The easiest way for me to manage today, to manage right now, is to be ok with all and any possibilities and outcomes being on the table.


Expectations


I want to write about “normal”. I’ve been using quotation marks around the word so far because in my own personal opinion, it doesn’t exist.

For me, there is no objective “normal”.


And that often gets me thinking about my idea of a “normal” Christmas.

It usually involves a couple of train journeys, visiting local bars in my hometown Galashiels, visiting relatives and catching up with old friends.

It involves parties, huge gatherings and walks around the Markets.


I step back for a second though. Then I start to think that I have no right to that experience.


My idea of “normal” is just that, an idea.


Just because that’s what I’ve been so massively fortunate to have experienced previously, doesn’t qualify me to feel that experience is a given, or something that I’m owed.

What we have, or what we’re used to, has always been so fragile.

I know I definitely took a lot of it for granted.


Whilst I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes they could turn the calendars back a couple years and start to appreciate every moment of it, we can’t.


Just because that’s what I’ve been so massively fortunate to have experienced previously, doesn’t qualify me to feel that experience is a given, or something that I’m owed.

And that is, whether we want to hear it or not, a bitter pill we must just swallow and deal with.


I could write for hours on expectations. But experiences have taught me that as much as we’ll naturally have them, it’s best not to lean on them too hard.


I kinda imagine it like a broomstick being leaned on, whilst having it booted out from underneath.

It doesn’t end well, and opens us up to so much more distress than if we distanced ourselves slightly and held onto it like we do, without the feeling of reliance.

I have the kind of Christmas in mind that I HOPE to get, definitely.


I would imagine, I will get that kind of Christmas again. If not this year, perhaps next year, or the year after that.


Either way, the willingness to just hold my hands up and waive any rights I have to that, has made all the different possibilities os much easier to get my head around for the coming months.


Perspective


I’m sure I’ll be repeating myself here, but oh well.


My favourite thing about perspective, is that we get to choose our own.


And my overall gut feeling is that for the home straight of 2020 to really be embraced, I’m going to have to shift my own perspective and choose a different one.


As things stand at the time of writing this (early November), a lot of what normally excites me about this time of year won’t exist.

It’s no longer a time for enjoying the atmosphere and mulled wines at the market.


It’s no longer a time to come together with our favourite people and proudly humiliate ourselves with our footwork on the dance floor at the work Christmas parties.


It’s more than likely for a lot of us, no longer a time to travel and see relatives for the first time in a year.

More than likely we won’t be hitting pubs or getting mad on Mad Friday.


I accept that. I no longer expect that to be the case.


All that’s left for me to do is to alter my own perspective on all of this.


I’ve acknowledged all the things it won’t be.


But, for me to have a chance at enjoying this most wonderful time of the year, I need to consider what it CAN still be.


What this time of year still has the potential to offer? What is it that we individually can grab on to and give ourselves the best possible chance to enjoy it?

Time off work? Time with family? Time with friends? A chance to treat someone you care about with a meaningful gift?


The chance to blast out Mariah Carey and wear wacky Christmas Jumpers to work?


The chance to eat chocolate for breakfast every morning with zero outside judgement as you make your way through your Lindt Advent Calendar (Lindt is just my favourite..)


But, for me to have a chance at enjoying this most wonderful time of the year, I need to consider what it CAN still be.

Perhaps it offers time to be thankful and grateful. Or even a chance to reflect and learn from all that’s happened this year. (And may still happen, it is only November after all..)


Or maybe it’s even the hope it might bring?


The kinda potential hope that a new calendar year offers.


Where everything feels like it “re-sets” when the 1st of January appears. Sure, “hope” doesn’t pay the bills, or put food on our table.

But damn, it’s surely better than the alternative..

To have none?!


For me it’s probably a little bit of everything I’ve mentioned there.


Of course I’ll enjoy some time off work, and the chance to spend some time with my family.


I love Mariah Carey songs and I love Lindt chocolate.


I guess what’s helping me manage my own worries around the coming months is making sure for every minute I spent feeling down about what Christmas won’t be, I just need to try spend 2 minutes considering what it still can, and hopefully will, be.


And that’s it..


I don’t consider myself an optimist..

Or even a pessimist.

The glass isn’t half full, or half empty.

Hell, the glass smashed a long time ago, and whatever was in it is still stained into the carpet, fading slightly as the days and weeks go by.


I don’t care for labels much.

Things are as they are in 2020, a year truly like no other that we’ve ever experienced before.


If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I’ve really been living my life under a very false sense of entitlement.

I’m not entitled to anything.


A holiday, trips to restaurants or even a Christmas.


And should I ever get a Christmas like the one I’ve become so used to up until now, then I’ll enjoy every single second of it more than I ever have before.

Alas, I’ll have to wait and see.


All I know is this year is looking more and more likely to be something entirely different.


That, is something unfortunately I can’t control.


I also know, that no matter how it goes down in the coming weeks, I’m ready to take whatever form Christmas comes in this year.


That is something, I can and will control.

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