Last Christmas

Last Christmas feels like the other day and without sounding ‘first worldish’ in my ‘oh woe is me’ – I’m really fearful of this coming one: because I don’t want to feel the way I did last Christmas. Oh yes, the handle came off my front door literally and my world seemed to come undone. I pressed down on the handle, through a fog of tears, and the door seemed to offer its wonky handle as a gift in the absence of others. You know those moments where you look up at the sky, and internally stamp your feet, and scream ‘Are you serious? Enough already!’ Yes, it was one of those! 

Yes, it was a lonely Christmas and a planned drive back to Galway City to my family didn’t happen. Now, I know so many of you choose to be alone on Christmas Day and I understand the diverse reasons for that choice but Christmas Day for me is a huge trigger: it’s like a million Sundays for me and I’m not good with any given Sunday. To verify that, myself and Oran walked around the fields really early this morning with a lamp needed, and he never left my side: I couldn’t stop crying. Again animals are simply amazing in their intuition and empathy. It was that out-loud crying that ironically feels soothing: it brings you close to those you miss sometimes or it makes you face those realities that ‘busy life’ kicks to the kerb. 

Loneliness always visits me on Sundays regardless of how busy I am with the rescues. It keeps me company ironically. I did have a poignant moment when I dropped Oran back into the house, and made my way to the yard: I looked back as I suddenly remembered my Granny and how she would position herself at the window with the net curtain falling behind her and she would keep waving until we could no longer see each other. I thought of her; I wondered how many people wave people good bye from a window or a door anymore and stay there until the road ahead takes a turn. And yes I looked back and found a 10 month old pup searching for me in the dark! 

So when my farrier arrived to get two of the ponies done today, on a SUNDAY, I think I might have frightened him with my ‘it’s soooooo good to see you!’ 

Last Christmas I swore things will be different ‘Next Christmas’. But ‘Next’ becomes ‘This’ and then ‘This’ will merge into all the ‘Last Christmases’.  And no matter how much you want to change it, sometimes it remains the same so I guess you have to try not harder but try differently. Not everything needs a ‘hammer and nail’ approach. It could be lighting one candle every night, it could be playing your favourite Christmas music, it could be buying a bottle of wine and toasting to those you love who have passed. It could be the deepest breaths to deal with difficult guests and finding that internal smile! It can be the simplest of things I guess. When ever I have clients who feel totally hopeless, they usually will score themselves one out of ten in terms of how they feel. I never say, ‘how can you feel like a 10 today?, what can you do to get to a 10? Instead, I ask, ‘tell me how you can get to a 2!’ 

So if Christmas feels like a 0 or a 1 for you, what can you do to take it to two. 

I wish it didn’t take a life time to make me realise what Christmas is about: it’s a feeling, a warmth, a celebration, it’s individual, not generic and if you chase it in shops with a credit card, Christmas can quickly become ‘Christ it’s stressful!’ 

I can remember a few of my gifts Santa bought me throughout  my childhood years and one was a wind-up plastic tv that played ‘Old MacDonald had a Farm’. Little did I know one day Catriona would be just like Old MacDonald. And yes, I wonder how the hell did this happen? Did my mother plant the seeds before I was old enough to consciously make that decision: to have animals, lots of animals!! 

So, if you are struggling with the idea of a repeat of ‘Last Christmas’ – May I quote George Michael and say, ‘this year to save me (you) from tears…’ try do something differently. One thing! 

I’m hoping my handle will just stay attached to my door! 

Happy Christmas to you…. x

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