A very Merry Christmas to you all, and I hope everyone had the best day!
It’s no secret that Christmas is a time for gatherings of friends and family. It’s the time of year where no excuse is really good enough, and even if you haven’t made time for people during the rest of the year, for just one day, time and distance don’t matter and everyone comes together to eat their weight in food and drink a gallon of alcohol until people’s faces become a blur and you are allowed to fall asleep on the sofa, even with 20 people in your house. Just because it’s Christmas.
When we were little, Christmas was a huge deal. My dad would set up the tree at the beginning of December; have a light-up Santa Claus with his reindeer at the front door; sing Christmas songs to us at the top of his voice – it was magical. Don’t get me wrong, it still is my favourite time of year, but there was something different about it back then. Something special. He would put us down for a nap in the afternoon on Christmas Eve in the hopes that we would be able to stay awake long enough to make it through the entire Midnight Mass service. (FYI it never worked. I only ever got the first few words the minister said, and next thing I knew I’d be munching on a post-service cookie and starting to get buzzed about presents.)
Before bed on Christmas Eve, we were allowed to open one present. Usually it was a little stocking filler, but it was enough to calm us enough to go to sleep. My dad would let my brother and I share a bed together, and would read pages of my favourite bedtime storybook (The Phantom Tolbooth) to put us to sleep. Say what you want about the Scottish accent, but my dad’s voice when he’s reading is just as soothing as Morgan Freeman’s when he’s telling a good story.
When my dad moved abroad, Christmas became less and less of a traditional event that we cherished, and, in the words of my mother, became ‘just another day’. The tree got lost during one of our 3 house moves, God knows what happened to light-up Santa and his troupe of reindeer, and, 13 years ago when we moved into our new house, a random stool was designated to have tinsel wrapped around it and presents put underneath. And that is about as festive as it gets in our family household now!
So, since I moved out of my home the first time, I’ve always tried to get as festive as possible when Christmas comes round. I get really into the whole putting-up-the-tree thing; I love present shopping, and I absolutely adore when other people are on the same level of excitement as me.
This year was Mr OneBigStressball and I’s first Christmas since we moved in together. For the first time in my life, we have a tree that isn’t artificial, we threaded and hung up all the baubles individually, and we had a cute little Christmas night in together with our flatmate the week before Christmas Day.
(How adorable is this tree by the way? It looks tiny but I had to hulk it back from the supermarket by myself and the soil in the bucket was horrendously heavy.)
Everything was perfect. Well, almost everything. Unfortunately, due to asking for New Year’s off from work (we’re going on holiday!) I was put on the graveyard 6am shift in the gym on Boxing Day. Huzzah. (!)
My mum had to work Christmas day, and Ian was going to go back to his parents in Fife – an hour’s drive away, and I didn’t tink it would be fair to have either of them drive me back to Edinburgh from their respective cities at 5am the day after Christmas day so I could get to work.
I was going to have to spend Christmas day on my own.
I know, I know. Woe is me, silly little girl complaining about being on her own at Christmas when there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who have to do the same thing, and have no choice.
The thing is. I’ve never been forced to be alone before. I seek company most of the time because I know deep down that I am not good at being on my own.
Thoughts I do not want just come into my head uninvited, and I spend too much time dwelling on the shitty things that have happened in the past.
Best case scenario, I watch Planet Earth and cry. Worst case scenario, I give in to the dark cloud of self-judgement and convince myself I am not good enough for any praise, let alone be deserving of anyone else’s love.
So, I had to prepare myself for a day during which I had to keep myself entertained as much as possible in order to avoid having to confront my demons.
So, I came up with a cute day for myself.
I woke up naturally at around 7am, but got to have the looooongest lie-in until around midday, before I got my arse in gear and got out of bed. It was Christmas, soooo I had spaghetti carbronara for my brunch, and read my new book for a couple of hours. When my eyes started getting a little droopy, I started binge-watching a new series on Netflix.
For all you Gossip Girl fans out there who didn’t think Dan (Penn Badgley) was creepy enough in that series, I suggest you watch You. Equal parts thrilling and sexy, it was weirdly addictive and I’m in the middle of watching the last episode now. 3 days to finish an entire season isn’t too bad right?
I wanted to distract myself a little more, so I went off to the gym, where I was certain I’d be the only little sad sack, but lo and behold, I was so wrong… there were at least 10 people there grunting and throwing weights around. Working off the damage of Christmas dinner before they’d even had it? Or avoiding small talk and probing questions with distant family members who they only see once a year because of the holiday season?
Thankfully, it was quiet enough for me to be able to have the treadmills to myself, and there weren’t enough people in there for me to get pissed off enough due to any sort of lack of machines.
Yep, I’m that person with resting bitch face that will storm around the gym and stare people down until they give up the squat rack, especially if they’ve been hogging the thing for ages, doing more exercise with their thumbs that are scrolling through Instagram. Sorry. Not even sorry in the slightest.
Anyway, leg day and run done and dusted, I went on home and made myself productive doing some work I knew I needed to finish before going off on holiday. Client programs, nutrition plans etc. It felt kind of shitty doing work on Christmas Day, I’m not going to lie or say it was amazing feeling like I was getting something done, but I was bitter. I felt like everyone I wanted to be with was on some far-distant planet that I couldn’t reach, because Christmas is all about family and I didn’t want to intrude on anyone. It’s a difficult one to navigate. Everyone is in their little pocket of family festive cheer, and it seems rude and slightly obnoxious if you even yearn or want to slot yourself in there.
After working I did reward myself with a nice dinner though. I didn’t want to have to cook my own Christmas meal, so went to a nearby steak house who I knew were going to be open till late.
For any readers from Edinburgh, please please go to Los Amigos. It is an incredible little restaurant that does the best melt-in-your-mouth steak I have ever tasted.
I got my beautiful little sirloin, and devoured every morsel like the wee gannet that I am. Ugh it was good. I was, however, sat at a lonely table right at the door, so got a waft of freezing cold air everytime the door opened. Which was often. As the restaurant was fully booked. On Christmas.
Garlic sauce is one of the best things anyone has ever invented by the way. End of.
As I was up at 5am the next day, so I didn’t want to be up too late. By the time I had my dinner and wine, it was almost half past 9 in the evening, so I had a bit of down time and read my book when I got home.
Christmas on my own wasn’t as pitiful as I thought it was going to be.
I did want to have a little cry during the day before I went to the gym, but the thing is, I had to remind myself that if I had forced Mr OneBigStressball to stay with me, it would have meant he’d be away from his family, something he had to do last year already by flying out to Sydney to see me last Christmas. Had I made my mum drive me back to Edinburgh on Boxing Day before my shift, she would have had to get up way earlier than necessary, and would have been knackered going into her own job. If I had asked someone to cover my Boxing Day shift, would have put them in the same predicament I was in, and that was the last thing I wanted. The reason I was working then was because I wanted New Year off, and I was lucky enough to be able to get that.
People have to work Christmas Day all the time. Doctors, retail workers, and people in the hospitality industry. Those poor people who had to serve me on my tod at the restaurant can’t have beem loving what they were doing. (Don’t worry, I made sure I ate as quickly as I could.)
It was just tough having to do it for the first time this year. I was so close (geographically) yet so far from the people I wanted to be with. Had public transport been running I would have been able to see them, even just for a little while.
To be honest, if anything, this whole experience has been a lesson to me that I need to learn how to drive ASAP.
I hope everyone had an incredible Christmas! If you had to spend it on your own, why? And how did you find it?