Sunday, 28 December 2014

Home alone for Christmas

Nosing through a recent copy of Good Housekeeping, an article by bestselling author Marian Keyes caught my eye. She was describing her Christmas Day and how she and her hubby have bucked the trend to have a big family event. Instead, they and a couple of close friends go for a long walk, enjoying a picnic of turkey sandwiches and mince pies along the way. There is a lot to be said for taking a new approach to the festive period given the pressure many people find themselves under because of 'society expectations' at this time of year.

Three years ago I felt I needed to 'opt out' of the Christmas Day tradition, looking forward instead to chilling out at home. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against the big family thing, but so many people I speak to seem to get together with family because they feel they 'ought to, should do' - few seem to enjoy it! Whilst I have had some wonderful Christmas experiences en famille, after 20 years of being elsewhere for the big day, I wanted to do my own thing in my own home and not dance to someone else's tune. No matter how fantastic and welcoming your hosts are, there is nothing quite like being in your own place to feel truly relaxed.  Plus I get full control of the TV remote!

One of the reasons many people go along with tradition is because they fear the reaction of their nearest and dearest if they did their own thing. Indeed, Marian Keyes experienced this from her own family. I, too, have been on the receiving end of various reactions varying from 'go girl, wish I could do that too!' to concern - although, on further scrutiny, some reactions of concern are perhaps more a reflection of guilt on behalf of the giver who doesn't feel comfortable at the thought of me being home alone. So, I am grateful to my gorgeous partner and my family for being so understanding and supportive of my decision.
My experiences of spending Christmas Day alone have been positive. While everyone else is caught up in the frenzy of packing and traveling to relatives, or shopping til they drop to ensure every base is covered if hosting the day themselves - I appreciate the peace and tranquility that is found outside this media-hyped vortex. It is one day of the year when I  feel completely at peace and relaxed at home. And I'm not entirely alone - I have realised my childhood dream of looking after my own pony on Christmas Day. I love going out for a ride with my friends at the stables in the morning without the pressure of having to be anywhere afterwards. Having caught up on reading matter, or other household stuff, I walk back to the yard to settle Wilbur down for the night before heading home to the warm hug of Myrtle Cottage, with her open fire. I cook a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, which of course has to be shared with my stripey feline friend, Haribo, and I speak with friends and family on the phone. I haven't ruled out ever having Christmas elsewhere or with others, but for the moment this works for me.