Christmas to Christmas, the difference a year makes

I love Christmas – yes, I’m one of those people. It’s an infection I caught from my adored grandfather. He was adored not just by me but everyone who ever met him, so infectious was his larger than life gregarious spirit. At Christmas time he exploded with good cheer and merriment. As children my brother and I stayed with my grandparents in their house by the sea for our school holidays. The run-up to Christmas day Grandpa would have us very excited with tall tales (the only kind he told) and helping with decorations. Grandma would have us salivating as we peaked at what she was concocting in steaming pots in the kitchen.

Christmas morning Grandpa was the first up (yes even before small children) and burst into our bedroom to wake us excitedly announcing “It’s Christmas!” Now I think about it, he was Santa. Tall, robust with a substantial belly (from homebrew making) and a thick shock of white hair. All he needed was the beard, but he certainly had as much Christmas spirit as Santa himself. How blessed we really were.

Last Christmas I was in a very different place, in every way, to where I am this Christmas. This time last year I was watching my world explode, what I held dear and believed in was shattering to pieces. My marriage and the life I’d built crumbling around my ears. I thought it was the worst thing that could happen, it wasn’t. I thought the anguish I was feeling would drown me, it didn’t.

This Christmas I’m living in a new town and new house, both of which I’ve grown to love. When I first arrived I found the foreignness of it all, and living alone, frightening. Now I look around every day and feel grateful and calmer than I have in years. My life is my own again. I write this hoping to give comfort to anybody in the place I was last Christmas. Will it all get better and be ok, I know you’re asking yourself. Yes, it will… if …. and here’s the key – if you decide it will and start moving towards that goal.

There’s a lot of mess to clear up at the end of a marriage. Messy emotions, messy untangling of finances and responsibilities. Moving home. I started the ball rolling last Christmas by selling the married home, which was a stress in itself with a difficult buyer making unreasonable demands whilst trying to get the purchase of my new home, on the other side of the country, through a chain that kept threatening to break. Every week saw a new challenging twist I had to negotiate. Keeping my head was essential, if I’d lost it, I’d be in a “different” (read, “worse”) place now. The decisions we make today see where we are tomorrow.

Get a lawyer, take proper financial advice and keep your head. However, there are things you simply can’t control. Recognising the difference, I’ve always found challenging. Sadie would say to me, “You can’t control everything.” It’s sage advice. When my world starts falling apart my instinct is to try to do just that, but the real power and freedom and peace can only be found in letting go.

When to hold the reins and get your shit together, when to sigh and just let go, saying; “It is what it is” – that’s the challenge. Navigate it right and you’ll come out of this bumpy, perilous white-water rafting experience into the calmer, peaceful, happier waters you seek. I’m no expert, I’m on a never-ending learning journey myself, but these are the things I’ve found to be true from my experience.

It does get my hackles up sometimes when I’m advised, “let go – you can’t control everything”. True, but some things you need to sort out or you’ll sink – simple. As your ship hits an iceberg, rushing to bucket water over the side won’t get you anywhere but neither will sitting in a yoga pose om’ing on the deck. Get yourself a lifejacket and a raft and paddle around the rocks. Then let go, holding onto any of it won’t bring you peace. Things happen that aren’t fair, my ex treated me unfairly – but I’m a grown-arse woman and nobody put a gun to my head to marry him. That was my decision and I take responsibility for it, and also now forgive myself for it. I’ve got better days to look forward to, including today. Today I can choose to be happy and go do things that make me happy – even just savouring this cup of coffee and writing my heart out in this blog.

Once I’d have thought having Christmas day alone would be heart-breaking, today I’m so looking forward to it. I could go to a friend’s house but I’m choosing to do this alone because all I need to be happy is me, my dogs and good food and wine. I’ll be dressed in my Christmas jumper making Christmas dinner, singing Christmas songs, drinking mulled wine and watching the Queens speech and Elf with the dogs and I’ll be feeling very grateful for all of it.

Blessings to you this Christmas, I wish you a very happy one.

Published by JoJo

Confessional writer, starting over at 50 - I promise you brutal honestly with a few laughs along the way.

12 thoughts on “Christmas to Christmas, the difference a year makes

  1. Great piece. I’m so happy you’ve moved into a better state of mind. A year can bring so much change— Change is terrifying but most times it’s the absolute best thing that can happen to us.
    Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your post should bring cheer to everyone as your positivity and resilience shines so bright. You’ve been through a lot and the fact that you’ve come through with your ideas intact says a lot about you and possibly about the influence of your Grandad. Ideas about not sitting in a pool of your own misery but getting up and having a go, taking and keeping control, Nobody ever said life would be fair and the old cliche holds, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade” (or I’ve got a good recipe for Limoncello if you’d prefer!) Have a very happy Christmas and be relaxed and at peace. I shall raise a glass to you round about, well maybe midday (I’ve got permission to start early on Christmas day), and wish you all you wish yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you beautiful soul! Thank you so much! I love lemoncello so would be grateful of your recipe. I will also raise (one of many) glasses to you Christmas Day – I’ll start early with you 😉 where are you in the world? So I know what time we’re cheersing for midday x

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  3. Expertly written. What a blessing your grandfather was and is to you. “Just let go” is easy to say and oh so hard to do, isn’t it. I left my marriage home five years ago. Just now am I finding a greater measure of calm and peace. Not the 18 months the books talked about. But I am very grateful for the life I have. I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Roger. Your comments are always such a treat for me to read, you’re clearly a very intelligent man. I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas x

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  4. Great post and I’m so happy that you are in a much-better place.

    I hope you have a great Christmas however you celebrate it and thank you for taking us along on your journey!

    From one 50-year-old to another. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I fell in love with your Grandfather, JoJo! Your love for him mirrors the love I had/have for mine. While they are physically much different, their spirts are much the same: love of life and all things grand-children. So I have come to love your Grandfather because of how you loved him and how he loved you. I’m in my sixties, and working to help women in my age group to see there is a spectacular life to be had even with they are moving through life alone. I swear, I had not read your post before posting my own. But it is safe to say we two think along the same lines when it comes to enjoyment of solitary living. Enjoy your holiday celebration. The same will be happening at my place.

    Liked by 1 person

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