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The Christmas Letter

December 24, 2022

The Christmas Letter

Now look, if your Christmas is set to be a good one, no family issues, no worries then can I just wish you a very Merry Christmas, thank you for reading in 2022 and we’ll catch up in 2023 as there’s just not much in this week’s newsletter for you.


I’ve had my fair share of rotten Christmases (as well as some lovely ones) so if you’re not feeling it this year, this newsletter is for you and I hope it helps raise a smile.


One of my favourite rubbish Christmases was when I went away with a bloke in my twenties.  I wanted to do something different so we booked a room in a fabulous hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond (you know the one I mean) and off we went just the two of us.


It was lovely.  There were carol singers in the hall on Christmas Eve, a massage in the spa for me on Christmas morning and then we went into Christmas lunch.  After mains he pushed an envelope across the table to me and said “this is for you”.


Well, my mind went into overdrive.  It was back in the day when boarding passes were slips of paper – was it a New Year’s trip to the Caribbean or somewhere equally lovely?  Was it a clue, telling me where he’d hidden a Tiffany box for me to find later?  Was it a love letter to make me feel amazing?


No.  It was a list of ten ways in which I could improve myself.   True story.


My family knows this story and we all laugh about it and shake our heads in disbelief because, of course, it’s not possible for me to improve myself (ho ho) and second, because it is such an incredible thing for someone to give to someone they “love”.  Who writes a letter to someone they "love" pointing out all their shortcomings?  Glasshouses and stones come to mind but here's the thing.

Christmas is sold to us as a time when everything is all right with the world, a time when magic exists, a time when everyone should be peaceful, calm, content and if you hoover up an entire tub of Celebrations by accident then it's fine because everyone knows that there are no calories in chocolate at Christmas but actually, I’ve had many Christmases when life wasn’t quite like that.  Not like that at all (and even the calories were real).


I spoke to one of our subscribers recently who told me that she is a foster mum to two children.  I didn’t ask how long she’d been caring for them as I didn’t want to pry too much, but it must be a few years because she said “Every Christmas they stay in their rooms.  They don’t come down and we don’t push them to, we just let them be and they stay in their rooms eating chocolate, watching television and playing video games.”   What’s happened to those children (now young adults) to have Christmas ruined quite so completely for them?  What has our society allowed to happen?


I’m sure many of you have horror stories of your own because it’s often the thought of Christmas and the family perfection that we hang onto rather than the reality of family dynamics.  Two years ago my best friend burst into tears as she closed the door on her family as they left and not in a way that meant she'd be having them back anytime soon.


This Christmas I have an envelope for Mr TOYL, but I’m not as cruel as that chap was to me.  I'm absolutely going to push it across the table after mains on Christmas Day as he'll get the joke, but this letter lists ten ways in which I think he is wonderful but probably never say because I forget.  Fingers crossed that I get a better reaction than I gave in my twenties.

If Christmas isn’t shaping up for you could I just say one thing?  That it is only one day.  A rough Christmas is bad, I accept that, but Boxing Day blows away all those feelings and we move on into a brilliant New Year where anything is possible.  It’s also worth remembering that this is actually a celebration of the birth of a child and if you take it right back to the miracle of that story then it is just a simple, humbling moment to reflect and give gratitude for the many good things in our lives.


I wish you peace, serenity and the courage to face all your relatives this Christmas and if you get a moment, why don’t you write a letter to yourself listing ten things you are brilliant at – do it for me.


Have a great weekend, 


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