I had lunch with a close friend this week but I didn't ask her if she was looking forward to Christmas. The reason? I know she isn't. Despite her forced good humour and pseudo smiles she is one of many who regard the coming season as another cruel reminder of what they have lost. My friend is a widow with no close family and though we'd love to see her at ours on 'The Day,' she prefers to stay at home.
Wouldn't it be great sometimes if we didn't have to follow etiquette? If we could just tell each other how we feel, especially at this time of the year? It may be very un-English but I'm sure it would do us a lot of good.
One of the most moving blogs I have ever read belongs to Ben Brooks Dutton who lost his wife in a car accident in November 2012 after less than two years of marriage ( and one adorable son.) Ben has found empathy through 'Life as a Widower' connecting with many thousands of bereaved families, most of whom whom he has never met.
In his usual direct manner he says this week '....I realised that I’ve spent all year gearing up towards calendar dates that ultimately don’t matter – a series of ‘firsts’ since my wife’s death including birthdays and anniversaries – and Christmas is just another. I just don’t think that I need to be reminded every day for the next month that Christmas is coming because I already know. And I’m as excited about it as the turkeys waiting to be slaughtered. I don’t begrudge anyone else’s fun at all, I just don’t feel much like being a part of it.'
So here's a challenge. Over the next four weeks, ask someone you know how they feel about Christmas and give them a chance to be honest. It might make you feel better. And it just might make them feel better, too.
You can find Ben's blog on