Over the years there have been very different Christmases; in one Scottish town we had too much food with one family on Christmas Day, then a Boxing Day with the other family who didn’t appear to have any food in the house; we went out searching for food, but all the shops were shut.
One year the longed for white Christmas arrived. My sister and brother-in-law were coming on their first holiday back to England. We had just bought our first place, a small two bedroom ground floor flat, which had the fortuitous novelty of gas central heating. Everyone had told my sister a white Christmas was very unlikely in the south of England. My brother-in-law’s sister lived with her family in a village near Dover, they came up to stay with us to be reunited. It snowed and there we were six adults and two toddlers almost snow bound in a flat that now seemed very small. I recall that all the adults had different drink requirements, but at one stage we couldn’t get any drinks as brother-in-law had been pinned in the kitchen by his sister for a tearful argument about how fairly their precious time in England was going to be shared between she and I. As she was having us all for actual Christmas Day and Boxing Day I’m not sure why she was complaining. My husband was relieved to avoid the trip to Kent due to his shift work and was going to spend the day with my aunt and uncle who had been deprived of the rest of us for Christmas. It began to look as if none of us would get to Kent if the trains and roads were snowed up… we did and Christmas morning was beautiful, trudging through snowy fields with the little ones , then back to a roaring log fire in their cottage. Alas the circle of heat emanating from the open fire did not spread to the rest of the cottage. It was freezing, especially for the Australian contingent, the bathroom, being a mere asbestos attachment to the rest of the building, was particularly uninviting.
If you have access to children Christmas feels more real and we had a few years with four generations, though children are a risk as well, they are liable to be sick all over great aunty’s sofa.
Christmas is something to be ignored and got through for some people, while for others it brings enormous stress as they juggle extended families. But it would seem strange for the year to peter out devoid of any celebrations.
For writers Christmas provides plenty of plot possibilities. In my Brief Encounters Trilogy three Christmases pass, with an ecclectic group of people assembled each time; plenty of tension and opportunity for both love and discord.