Christmas has become a hard time for me.

When I was a child, it was uncomplicated, with predictable rhythms and traditions which continued with little variation. Stockings before breakfast, church, presents after with lunch to follow. Sometimes grandparents made an appearance, mostly it was just the nuclear family.

As my sisters and I got older, things changed a little bit. We added Christmas Eve midnight communion (with optional snowball fights when the weather cooperated) and sometimes drinks with friends on Christmas day or boxing day.

Now though, years later, after marriage and divorce and grandchildren and career changes which involve non-optional festive shifts, things have changed so much that every year is a blank slate, every year is a negotiation. And even when (as this year) I had the chance to choose what I would do, I am always conscious of what I haven’t done, who I didn’t see, who I didn’t get to hug and wish merry Christmas to on the actual day.

And it makes me so grateful for my friend-family, who celebrate on Christmas Eve Eve so we can all see each other, who change the date of thanksgiving to what suits everyone, who are happy to host new year’s and let me sleep on the sofa rather than wrestling with taxis. Who are there with hugs and sensible advice and also a kick in the rear when required. You guys are awesome, and make Christmas (and other times) exponentially so much easier.

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