My brother and his lovely family visited us last weekend and I booked us a trip to some Christmas illuminations (pretty lights in pretty trees in the grounds of a pretty castle, I’m a sucker for sparkle and beautiful surroundings so it was a winner for me).
I imagined our families getting into the Christmas spirit as we marvelled at the festive lights with the kids. This was my first mistake: imagining. I’d created a story in my head for how the evening was going to go, and often when I do this reality fails to meet the glowing cinema reel of perfection my mind conjures up, then my inner critic Brian chimes in to ask me why I even bothered.
For example, my imagination had failed to take into account that I booked the illuminations not long after everyone arrived home from school and work, cue stamped feet from the children at the injustice of having to go out when they had only just got in, zero co-operation in getting changed and finding gloves and appropriate footwear, and a corresponding show of weariness from the adults who really wanted to have a good time but were feeling the pressure of even getting in the car, never mind trudging round a forest with a group of uncooperative children.
We arrived (late, nothing new here) and rushed through the lights because one child had a school disco to get to. The moaning at the injustice of being out in the cold when he could have been home playing on his computer (he’s Fortnite obsessed right now) ceased only at the sight of a hot dog van, the holy grail of our evening, and what turned out to be, ‘the best hot dog and chips ever.’ Cue some family festive enjoyment, as we troughed down our hot dogs and chatted amiably. Here was the family connection I’d been looking for, just not in the way I’d imagined.
With Christmas around the corner there’s going to be a natural break from devices for all of us so (yep, including me…gulp). No Instagram posting, no blogging, if a poem or story comes into my head I’ll be writing it the old fashioned way with pen and paper. Whilst removing the temptation of devices will give us a fighting chance at actually spending some quality time together, I’m under no illusions.
I’ll cease my daydreaming of our family gathered around the wood burner donning festive jumpers we don’t even own, our faces replete with bliss as we calmly exchange our gifts with gratitude, and I’ll just take it as it comes, trying as much as possible to pay attention to the moment that’s right in front of me and accepting that moment for what it is, with no wishing for how I think it should be. In the moments I can manage this, I usually find there’s a whole lot more joy to be found, just not always in the ways I might have expected.
Have a good one everyone, catch up with you in the New Year.