Home Alone

Christmas Day: Anyone who is grieving will tell you that this is the worst. A day made even more awful by the fact that, since you were a child, it has always been at best a high point of the year, and at worst a reference point on which everything hinges (“We’ll look into it after Christmas”). There is no getting away from the absolute hear-searing desolation the day brings.

And, of course, everything is the same: the radio, the TV, the internet – everything is full of the joy of a season that you can’t be part of. You’re so absorbed by grief that you are aware of things going on that you can’t possibly talk about. For example, Gail and I always exchanged a ridiculous amount of presents. Normally, watching each other in turn opening our gifts to each other would take several hours – with a reasonable gap for drinking and eating, of course – but those gifts aren’t there and you  realise they will never be there again; it matters little what you do with your life and how well or not you move through this stage of your life, never again will you get gifts from that person.

Of course, you can’t actually say that. It would sound puerile and self-centred, but don’t think for a moment that it won’t invade your life, because it’s not the actual lack of gifts that is the issue but what lies behind them. For me it was the knowledge that I would never get an After-shave or a shirt that I would love, but would never have bought for myself. Christmas was the time that Gail kitted me out in clothes for the next year and I loved the way she planned everything so meticulously so every item could be interchanged. Now? The thought of having to choose my own clothes filled me with dread.

As if that’s not bad enough, you will always be alone with your thoughts. Nobody asked me if I wanted to spend the day with them but I wouldn’t have done so anyway. Because Christmas Day is the one day you don’t want to impinge on anyone else’s happiness. It would be wrong to say that I didn’t get texts and messages asking me if I was alright but this was the one day I wouldn’t reply and say ‘Actually, I’m struggling a bit’. In fact, well-intentioned though the queries were, they were all pointless. Of course, I wouldn’t be alright -I knew and they did too.

My social media posts that day reflect the sense of forced joviality and were no more than a determined effort to not let anyone else worry about me. They were all having the Christmas that I wanted and it would be wrong of me not to let them have it.

I read my Facebook posts now and cry for the obvious pain behind the jollity.

Well, Lady B was a difficult woman to please sometimes, but I think even she’d be pleased with this first ever home alone Christmas dinner effort. Only one total meltdown today too! I’m trying hard, Pet. By the way, Jamie Oliver your chestnuts and brussels in chorizo; not getting the benefit at all.

And just in case I’ve not tugged on your heartstrings enough these past five months… The card is from last year but the watch is today; Gail’s final present she left for me. I love it, Pet. Time eh? Your first present to me was a watch, so we’ve come right around the face. 😢

This is Gail’s present: the crouching porcelain cat which went many years ago – frankly, because I was an arse but we won’t dwell on that – and I managed to find another this year. Hope you like him back Pet and…yea, sorry for being a twat 24 years ago. 😏

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