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December 24, 2008
"It'll be lonely this Christmas."
If you flick through the Radio Times this Christmas you will be inundated with Christmas comedy specials. Which at first I thought would be just what I wanted. However, when everyone in my house in Leam had gone home, at it was all so deathly quiet, I tried flicking on the telly and found that comedy can be very lonely. The whole point in it is to lose yourself, to just appreciate the humour for what it is and to laugh. But an empty house can be more depressing than the saddest of tearjerkers. For it can provide a laugh that echoes. Laughter is something that should be shared, between friends, family and loved ones. And so I can't help feel reminded of all those people who live alone, spending a Christmas day with no-one to pull their cracker.
Christmas is a very sad time of year. Everyone has a part of themselves that can feel alone. My Mum is a teacher, and rather a favourite, and must have received at least 50 cards from students and fellow teachers. She was talking to another teacher who said, 'The thing is with Christmas cards, you've got to wait til you've got lots until you put them up, otherwise you look like a right sad act'. Mum laughed and said that yeah that's true. She later was told by some mocking students that the aforementioned teacher had received one card. Just one. Hence why she had not put hers up. She obviously tried to make light of the situation, but you can see from what she said, that she was scared of looking like a 'sad act'. Perhaps she felt that she already did. I saw some of myself in that teacher. I too have received, bar from family, one card. And even that one was unexpected.
Christmas seems to have become a popularity contest. Remembering to send your cards to 'all your friends' and being so skint because you've had to buy 'so many presents' and bemoaning this situation to everyone in the vicinity. There are adverts everywhere for 'Christmas parties', TV adverts showing groups of friends laughing together, enjoying the Christmas spirit. When there are so many around you receiving and giving so much, I can't help but feel for those who have no friends. Who feel unwanted, unjustified in giving gifts, since they worry they will be deemed 'rather forward' as they don't even know each other that well. Those who go to the parties, but stand to the side. Who open a conversation that is never sustained. People who have acquaintances, not friends. Or don't know when the former becomes the latter and are too scared of rejection to find out. And so I feel for those who are lonely this Christmas, feeling friendless and unwanted. I can see a lot of myself in those people too.
Don't get me wrong, there are those who live alone and have many friends. My Grandma is retired and lives alone, and she receives more birthday cards than anyone I know. She has a more active social life than most student. She won't be spending Christmas day alone, she will be with my aunt. Because she has family who love her. But there are those who don't have family who care. Who are thrown out of their own houses, or whose family move away and are left alone, or whose family have passed away. If not unloved or unwanted, then forgotten about or left behind. Here I am one of the lucky ones, and I have a close-knit nuclear family even if my extended family are rather distant.
Then there are those, like myself, who aren't in a relationship. With cheesy musicals like The Sound of Music plastered over the television, and rom coms like Love Actually abound, we are led to believe that there is someone out there for everyone. But we all know that this is not true. There are many who live, and die, alone, unloved, or unloving, or both. Some through choice, and others, myself included, not for want of looking. We are told that love comes to us when we stop looking, but how long are we to stop looking for before we realise that that our lives are behind us and it is too late? It seems that some of us are not destined for love. So even if, as Love Actually claims, 'love is all around' then it certainly is limited to certain people, and not to others. And this is a saddening prospect.
So sitting here, at 02:45 (in the morning), with my Mum, Dad and sister in bed fast asleep, my cats curled up at the end of my bed, and my gerbils scurrying around in their cage, I ask myself: Am I lonely this Christmas? And I can't help but answer: 'Yes'. We can be alone in a crowd. We can feel unfulfilled when we have so much. I always try to bear in mind those less fortunate than myself, and give what I can. I know that I have so much. But I can't help but see a life without love as one not worth living. After being bombarded with Christmas ideals, it is no wonder that I have come to view love as tripartite, including family, friends and a partner. We need all three to really be complete. So with one of the three, can I be whole? Is my life really worth it? It seems not on this account. This may be the depression talking, but it seems true nonetheless.
So in all, we should all try to bear in mind those who are less fortunate than ourselves, especially at such a lonely time of year. It is not surprising that suicides are at their most frequent around Christmas, but perhaps we need to watch 'It's a wonderful life' and realise the amount of lives we touch, and the amount of lives we can touch, if we love, and let ourselves be loved. For even my life is worth it, right?