Merry(ish) Christmas and Happy New Year
I never know whether to tell this story or not. There was a Christmas or two when I was in kinship care. If you don’t know what that is then it is when you are being looked after by a relative or some other friend of the family that isn’t your parents. It could be a Grandmother or an aunt or whatever. It never used to have a name – it was just a situation – but now they recognise it as being somewhat less than ideal. My strongest memory of Christmas comes from that time. And, strangely, it isn’t a bad memory. I lived in my aunt’s house. We had a lot of kids in that house. Five kids. Two bedrooms. All in single beds that took up so much space there was no seeing the floor. And we did it all on rotation. You changed bed so that you were near the door at least once a week… Or you were near the window. By chance that year I had drawn the short straw (so everyone thought) by being near the window on Christmas Eve. Yes, it was single-glazed and so the chances of there being ice on the inside of the window come morning were actually quite high but I didn’t care about that. It was even further to go to get to the toilet as well: Over everyone else, round the corner, down the stairs (all in the dark) and then back again without putting a light on or stubbing your toe or getting a row for being up… it was not, theoretically, the best bed. But I liked it. Because I got to look out the window. And it was snowing. At that time Christmas was always a bitter/sweet affair. Yes there were presents. Maybe not the best presents. Maybe not as good as the presents sitting next to it under the tree that my cousins got. But there were presents. And I appreciated that. Although it wasn’t the best bit. It also meant there was a fair chance of seeing at least one parent the next day and possibly two. Which I appreciated even more. You would expect that to be the best bit. It wasn’t. The best bit was the looking out the window: The endless soft silence of snow falling in the night as I sat, undisturbed and wrapped in a duvet, looking at a pristine world. There was no wind and so the large snowflakes fell straight downwards and disappeared into the separate blankets of the back gardens. The peace of that moment became all encompassing. The future held nice things, yes, but I didn’t even want the future to come – all I wanted to do was remain in that stasis and watch snow fall forever. I tried to stay awake so that I could. I had no interest in seeing Santa – all I wanted to do was watch that scene: The falling snow acted, somehow, like a cold cloth on a fevered brow – a cooling calm. Snow brought ease and contentment. Snow removed worry and anxiety. And how wise I was at that tender age. I wasn’t really bothered about the extra stuff I would get. All I really needed was a removal of anxiety and room to simply… be. That’s still all that I want. The world is so noisy now. The anxiety levels are through the roof on all fronts and I don’t get the time any more to just look at the window and soak up the scene in silence. Although it looks like the world is gearing up to provide a new level of horror and dismay I hope you all had a fine festive period. I hope this New Year brings you all that you would wish for. Me? I’ll be hoping for peace but I’ll settle for snow and silence – at least once in a while.