…which is sort of what it’s been this year.
I can’t imagine I’m the only person who has backlashed against the religion of their upbringing to find themselves in a more-than-awkward situation or three at the annual religious festivities. Wave after wave of (in my view, compromised) clerics in the media telling us what to think are difficult to avoid at this time of year. Just like the retail corporations, this time of year is one of the biggest revenue-raisers for churches as people understandably return to church for carol services and the annual reminder of childhood Christmases. This arrangement of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! by Charlotte Church still sends a nice shiver down my spine.
This was the first year in nearly a decade where I was not in employment of one sort or another in the run up to Christmas. With hindsight, being in work took out some of the stress and anxiety of this time of the year due to the demands of the day job. It was a useful distraction. No work distraction this year though – only the thought of job-hunting in the new year & the hope that there will be a flood of vacancies coming up in the New Year that were put on hold in the run up to Christmas.
This year has been my first ‘social media’ Christmas – where I’ve spent most of my time following Twitter feeds and blogging. In previous years it was the mixture of Christmas works drinks and lots of sleeping to recharge batteries run down due to the commutes and/or London living. What I’ve picked up via Twitter has been an interesting spotlight on humanity – both the best and the worst aspects of it. There have been those who have used social media to support those who might be spending a lonely Christmas this year at one end, vs those who have used social media to abuse those who did not get them the present that they wanted for Christmas – the latter being suitably lampooned by Twitter’s finest.
The other common feature has been the intergenerational and familial differences that have come to the fore. Some of you have described teens trying to explain dubstep to grandparents, while others have described young children being given books only to try and ‘scroll the screen down’ rather than turning the pages. Some of you have also described the challenges of trying to hold your tongues while ‘politically incorrect’ relatives blame the latest voiceless scapegoat for the world’s ills. Some of the people I follow through Puffles have also had to deal with some real family crises this year – something that puts into perspective my own feelings about family Christmases and having a different disposition on a number of things to those who I grew up around. I am Lisa Simpson in disguise!
New additions – whether through births, adoptions or new relationships change family dynamics at this time of year. I’ve been very lucky thus far, the only challenges being logistical ones for other people who do the organising – i.e. who goes to which family gatherings on which day. The more people at such gatherings, the easier it is for me to be a wallflower, letting others who want to make a bigger thing of these seasonal celebrations do so while I remain inconspicuous. Relations with the partners of siblings are inevitably going to be different compared to your siblings themselves – I grew up with the latter, not the former. Getting used to the role of being a brother-in-law and an uncle is not something that happens over night. Just what is the role of the “unattached adult male” at such family gatherings? I’ll leave that one for the politicians and preachers. I’m not quite yet to take on the ghosts of Christmas future