At my house — same one I was born in — Christmas is when we have “nice biscuits.” Paper napkins appear in the drawer, with robins on, or mistletoe. Something classy. And above the phone in the hall, a mobile of felt snowmen spins peacefully and a honeycomb bell made of aged pink tissue paper gets its annual sunlight.
At the same time, things are changing. My brother is spending his first Christmas away, friends are forming new families and others are suffering, grieving or heading home to an uncertain welcome. Instead of sinking sleepily in to the holiday, I’m increasingly trying to stay awake and look around. The spirit of the new year arrives before it’s due, begging resolution.
Certain traditions are changing too. Like thank-you letters. You might be more likely to post a festive photo adorned with tiny dancing reindeer on Instagram than you are to post a letter to Great Aunt Joyce. But the feeling of wanting to send something — to say something — a little token of yourself and your life — lingers.
So what to write at Christmas? It seems like the thing to do — to write. To spell the year out and make sense of it, or to conjure the wished-for future.
But the days are too full for long stints at a story, not private enough for leisurely diary entries.
What if you didn’t send the traditional message this year? Cut the conventions. Start mid-stream. Forgo Dears and Warm Wishes — ask a question you’ve never asked instead. Tell your pen pal the best five things you ate this year and describe them in painful detail. Say here is something I’ve been scared to tell you. Send a life-raft. Try writing a different kind of letter…
Writing for Wellbeing, a new safe space online with Georgina Parfitt, starts in January 2020. Click here for more details or to enrol.