I was miffed that my plans for Christmas had to be cancelled at the last minute and I didn’t get to see any family. But it was all for a good reason and I felt good knowing it was helping to protect them. Trainline have just refunded me £112 for my rail tickets – that’s a result.
As for gifts. We didn’t do them this year. Which is great. Every year the gifts that get passed on are a disaster. Last year I was given an electric blue woman’s purse. I think my mam thought it was a guy’s wallet because it was blue. Do you think I was going to go to a woman’s store to return it? I’ve never bothered returning gifts to get a refund or exchange. I just gave it to a charity shop.
I am not a shopper, I would never be bothered to return something. I would just get rid of it – hopefully offloading it to someone who does want it. I don’t know why my Dad thinks I am interested in reading the autobiographies of random television personalities who had retired before I was even born. I always stick them in the charity shop too, or one year I gave one of them to my boss at work.
My sister does alright – she gifts me cheese and beer normally. Not this year. She wasn’t going to send glass bottles of beer and cheeses she had already bought across the country. She said she might send something via mail order at some point.
I realized this year something I’ve always known. Gifts are not why getting together over Christmas means a lot to people. What we like is having a place we belong, a group of people – family – who are our base, our anchor. We get together, we eat a roast, we watch films and we play Trivial Pursuit. It’s not all that impressive – but for a couple of days we feel safe and rested.
Then it is over and we are normally thrust back into living at a mad pace in a commercial world that is already stocking the shelves for Valentine’s and Easter. Not this year. The shops are closed (well not the supermarkets) and the pace is at a crawl. This year being safe was being alone. We sacrificed our chance to play Trivial Pursuit, eat a roast dinner and watch telly together because we want to be able to meet with our families again in the future. We were protecting that safe place – that base, that anchor – which roots us and makes us feel less alone. Family is not to be taken for granted.
It is never about gifts or things, it should never be. It should be about love. That’s what we did this year – we stayed away from our families because we love them.