|Picture: Channel 4|
Tomorrow we start the annual Christmas Odyssey, 300 miles of driving and visiting and being cheerful against the odds. Battling through snow and ice this year looks a certainty too. The likelihood of being stuck in a freezing traffic queue for hours on end doesn't really entice.
All this year, I've been trying to be authentic, to really be myself. And now I have finally realised, that really, deep down, the truth is that Christmas just makes me miserable and I wish it would go away. I know its a time when we are supposed to enjoy being with our families and celebrating love, all of which is very laudable, but for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is biological depression, I'd rather just crawl under my duvet and stay there till its all over.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to enjoy this time. People often complain about the commercial pressure that surrounds Christmas, but I think there is an increasing pressure, an insidious one, which is social. You MUST enjoy this time of year, otherwise you are a Scrooge, a humbug, a misery. You must force yourself to appreciate all the 'good' things about family, belonging, togetherness.
By doing this, we exclude those who can't. The people who are alone, or who have no relatives. I don't just mean those poor souls living on the streets. I mean the uncounted others for whom Christmas is a national celebration of everything they can't share, forced down their throat everywhere they look.
The mother whose child has just died.
The wife whose husband has just been killed on active duty in Afghanistan.
The daughter whose mother doesn't recognise her anymore because of Alzheimers, whose childhood Christmas memories have now been wiped.
The woman or man whose life has just been torn apart by divorce.
The souls who sit in mental hospitals over the holidays, isolated within their heads.
The grown up children (and not-so grown-up) who no longer have any contact with their families because of mental, physical or sexual abuse, because they are lesbian or gay, or because they have chosen to marry 'out' in some way.
Or those, like me, for whom Christmas is a celebration of everything they are not. A celebration of motherhood.
When you are surrounded by those you love on Saturday, in a rosy glow of twinkling lights, mince pies and sherry, please think of those for whom this time of year is not filled with joy, but by the very nature of their losses and exciles, the exact opposite.
Merry Christmas everyone. xxx