Christmas. It is a time for spending time with your family and friends, giving presents and eating your entire body weight in turkey and pigs in blankets (anyone else dream about these little beauties all the way through the year - I know I certainly do!). But each person's experience with Christmas is different. Some people have all their family round on Christmas Day, others prefer to spend it with their friends, some spend it with a mixture of people, and others spend it alone. My Christmas is probably not all that unique, but as it is the only Christmas I have ever known (other than when my parents were together) I thought I would share it with you to see if any of you have the same or similar Christmas to me or if yours is completely different to mine.
My Christmas pretty much starts on Christmas Eve. Ever since 2014 I have spent Christmas Eve with my Dad. We normally go to the pub, either just us, my brothers, and my Gran; or a few other family members join us. I try to eat as little as possible (although with a pub lunch and me not having to pay the bill that is pretty impossible) as I want to be able to consume as much food as my body can possibly take on Christmas Day. When my Mum and Dad were together it kind of became a tradition that we would go to Church on Christmas Eve and afterwards we would go home, turn all the Christmas lights on and make duck pancake rolls. We have not really done this that much since they split up, however if we ever have done this since then it has normally been at my mum's and is done on Christmas Eve Eve. We do return to my Mum's later that evening and once everyone is in bed it has become my responsibility to be Santa and lay out all the presents under the tree. I think this is because my room is downstairs so it is easier to store all of the presents in there and that way the presents can be moved from my room to the living room, where my brother cannot hear the sound of them being moved. Me and Mum will also try and pre-prepare as much food for the next day as we possibly can, for example we pre-cook the cauliflower cheese (an essential part of Christmas Day in our house) and prepare all the vegetables so they are ready to be put straight on the hob the next day.
Christmas Day itself is spent at my Mum's. As my youngest brother is only seven, this means we do have to get up a lot earlier than I would like to in order to open presents. I personally do not like doing this as I feel the present opening is over way too early and then it is quite a wait until we have dinner (plus I always end up being the one who has to get all the children's toys my brother gets out of their boxes, which anyone who has ever had to do that will know is a NIGHTMARE). My Nan and Grandad then come round a few hours later to give us our presents. They have also normally pre-prepared any food they are in charge of doing, which also involves the starters which are normally just some things for people to pick at. We normally have starters you would have at the Chinese or Indian. We will then sit down to eat around one, which I always thought was quite late but I know a few people who do not sit down to eat until three or four (and sometimes even later than that). With the main meal, when I say we go all out, I mean we go ALL OUT. We have every kind of vegetable imaginable (including brussels sprouts, you cannot do Christmas without brussels sprouts, whether you like them or not), roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, roast parsnips, cauliflower cheese, stuffing balls, cranberry sauce, bread sauce, gravy, turkey, pigs in blankets, and lots of other yummy food. We then normally have to have a break before moving onto pudding, which normally either consists of Christmas cake (which would have been decorated at some point before Christmas Eve) or Christmas pudding. I also feel like my family is the only family who does not have a load of boxes of chocolates. We maybe have one box but I feel loads of other families have so many boxes of chocolate at Christmas that they collect throughout the year. We normally have something Christmassy on the telly in the background while we play some games or just chat.
Then on Boxing Day we are back at our Dads and it is pretty much Christmas Day 2.0. We open our presents from our Dad (and obviously give him ours as well) and then have another Christmas dinner. This day is more of a chilled one for us for one reason or another, the exact reason I am not entirely sure of. But as this day is pretty much the same as Christmas day, there is not that much more to say on this day.
The rest of the last week of the year is pretty much spent with me eating all the left overs and wondering what the next year will bring. But I am incredibly lucky to have so many amazing people around me, even though I do tend to feel a little lonely at times. But some people are lonely on a regular basis. Did you know that around a million older people spend Christmas on their own, not hearing from or seeing anyone for days and weeks on end. This does not even account for how many are alone throughout the rest of the year. It can even be someone who lives next door or across the street from you. We now sadly live in a world where we are starting to not care that much about our neighbours. In the past, everyone would know everyone who lived on their street; whereas now I do not think I could give you any of my neighbours first names. I might take in a parcel for one of them every now and again but other than that I have never interacted with any of them in the whole two years I have been living here. This Christmas I am urging you all to do something to help fight loneliness. That could be donating to charities that help fight loneliness, such as Age UK, where they can send people to go and spend some time with lonely older people on a regular basis or hold groups they can go to where they can put on lots of activities for them to take part in. You could go round to see any of your neighbours who you know live on their own and see if they need any help around their house or need you to go and get some shopping for them. Even something as simple as sending them a Christmas card (obviously stating you are one of their neighbours if they do not know you) as something as simple as this is sure to put a smile on their face. Sure, some people might prefer to spend this time of year alone, however there are many out there who have no other choice than to spend it alone when they would love nothing more than to spend it with even just one other person.
So in the comments today I want to know two things: 1) what is Christmas like for you; and 2) what are you going to do, no matter how big or how small, to help to try and combat loneliness in people at this time, and any other time, of year?
Love Beth xx