My fourth Christmas without Gail. It seems barely credible. I never knew how I got through the first one, yet I seem to have survived four. But then, of course, that’s what happens. You just keep going and going and suddenly you’re years away from the event, looking back wondering how you got where you are.
After last December’s pandemic lockdown difficulties, I decided to throw myself into the season. The annual hotel stay in London that used to do every year with Gail was back on, and I booked as many festive shows, films and events as I could reasonably squeeze in.
It was OK.
People still realise that Christmas is a difficult time for me and that’s nice. I’m always asked where I’ll be on Christmas Day, who I’ll be spending the day with and the answer is always the same, but that’s OK too. It would be wrong to say I actually enjoy it but then it’s not as bad as some seem to think either. There will be at least one time during the day when it all gets too much and I will breakdown for five minutes, but I understand that is to be expected and I just deal with it and the rising panic that comes for knowing that this is how it will always be.
The fact is I’ve always loved Christmas for the time it is. There’s that warmth and happiness that the season seems to engender, but there’s also a sense of melancholy and nostalgia that inevitably accompanies it. Over the years I’ve noticed differing personalities find more of one than the other but even now I find myself getting irritated by people who say ‘Thank God that’s over’ just as the clock ticks over from Boxing Day. Reasonably you might think I’d be like that myself, but I’m really not.
I think back to that first Christmas Eve that I spent with Gail and, in many ways, it just seems to encapsulate everything I’ve felt every Christmas before and since. There was happiness, excitement, anticipation and love, and there was sadness and loss, despair and anguish too. I can see and feel and smell that Christmas Eve as if it happened yesterday and the fact it took us six years before we spent one together, meant some of the feelings I’ve had every Christmas since 2018 have been feelings I’ve experienced before. The only difference is the hope then that one day they may be different; now, of course, I know they never will be.
Really though Christmas can be seen as the fulcrum of the year; a time when we look back and forward. I’ve done another one then, I guess and that’s probably the best thing I can say about it.