Friday, 18 December 2015

The "C" Word | Christmas

Have you put your Christmas tree up yet? Have you all of your shopping done? How many Christmas jumpers have you bought? Did you cry when you saw the John Lewis advertisement?

Ah, Christmas.

Christmas is an interesting time of year when you sit down and break it up into pieces. For me now, it is a time when the faaamily gather round, good food hanging around to eat, dodgy films to pass the cold nights and the visitors you see over the course of the few days. Since the numbers of young people who have fled these shores in search of work has increased dramatically over the last few years, it is a particularly important time for families and communities to come together and have a grand aul' do.

It is something that I have not talked about hardly ever before on here, but it also something that ticks away and consumes a large part of my brain this time of year, every year. If I was to tell you, that Christmas excites me, that I own ten jumpers for the time that's in it, that I am on the countdown to D-Day and I am watching Christmas movies to get me in the festive cheer - I would be lying. Do not get me wrong, it is a magical and exciting time for children and families alike - but it is easy to forget those who find the Crimbo shinagegans a bit hard to digest and plough through.

It's not a common, or even a popular opinion to share: "I find Christmas hard".

Anyone who is in the same boat as me will have their own reasons, and I have mine. It will be eleven years this December that my older, beautiful, wonderful sister had her life cut short - so tragically close to Christmas. At twenty-two years of age she had not long graduated from college (top of her class), she on the cusp of something great; the entirety of her life in front of her to live and enjoy. In a handful of seconds, that was all taken from her through no fault of her own. While it is something that I am usually open to talk about in person, tapping it onto these keys knowing that you are reading it is a tad teriffying. But the reason why I am sharing is simply to make other people feel not so isolated in this amazing and haunting part of the year for some.

Some people have discarded these notions I have towards all of this, "Sure you were only young when it happened" or "You hardly remember all of that, surely?" Little did they know that I replayed from the time I found out the news, to the day we said our final goodbyes over and over in my head at night, reliving the horror almost, so that I would not forget. It has left it's mark on all of us, and our family has never been the same since. It was a nightmare, that is the only way to put it. While time, in essence is a healer as they say, there is always that empty chair and her room will always be "Ashling's room" or the question of "What would she have said if she saw or heard all of this?"

A lot of the mechanics behind Christmas are regrettably, highly influenced corporately. I do not see why we cannot make time for each other, and our families especially, throughout the year. You only realise how much you miss something until the day that it is no longer in your grasp.

I am not Scrooge, I am just part of a minority. All I can say, is that this year was the first year I bought a Christmas jumper and I am starting to sing along (half hazardly) to the songs on the radio. Fairytale of New York gets me every time, dunnit.

If you take anything from this; keep an eye on those around you. Something as small as calling in on the elderly members of your community for a quick cup of tea could mean the absolute world to them. We are always busy, well we seem to be anyway. Can we really be too "ran off our feet" to neglect people during their loneliest time of the year?

Still don't believe me? Last year, half a million elderly people in the UK spent Christmas Day completely on their own. I stumbled across this video last year and it stayed with me afterwards.

After this post, ordinary content will resume again. I have come very close to discarding this one completely. However I made a promise to myself that I would be as authentic and as true as I possibly could be on this space. I also thought it would be interesting for a young person to shed light on this topic, as it is not a problem that is exclusive to any background or age bracket.

I do wish you all, a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas and that you spend the holidays the way you want them to.

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit

SNAPCHAT: catherinegal


  1. That was so well written Catherine. I'm so sorry about your lovely sister and very well put as to why you and your family will find Christmas hard as you all miss her. I thought it was really nice to see the bond between you and your other big sister at the Blog AWards. Lots of love there for sure. I wish you and the family a peaceful and happy Christmas x

    1. Hi Paula, thank you for your lovely message. Yes absolutely, but the same woman was an absolute legend and we are so lucky to have the memories we have of her. You're right there, we are indeed - it's all about family at the end of the day, hopefully we'll see you again soon. Same to you Paula and all the best for the New Year x

  2. Hello Catherine, I read your Christmas blog entry way back and wanted to respond to it's taken me this long to get around to it .... Christmas having come and gone now my response may seem out of season, but the things you write about in your entry you carry with you all year long. Your piece about your late sister was beautifully and touchingly written and I am struck by your courage and honesty in writing about something that has brought great pain and loss in your life. It is always difficult to write about the things closest to us because sharing a part of ourselves can cause us to feel exposed and vulnerable. Way more people than you realise, including young people, find Christmas hard, for a whole variety of reasons, yes there's bereavement, but there's also missing family away, unhappy childhood, depression, loneliness, despair at the materialism of the season, worrying over young people drinking too much that might lead to tragedy, illness, poverty ... the list is endless. Many. many people just try to make the best of it if they can and are glad to survive it all. Not long after I read your comments about the way you have grieved for your sister, I came across a piece by Elisabeth-Kubler Ross that reminded me of what you had written. Here are her words:"The reality is you will grieve forever. You will never 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same again. Nor should you be the same, nor should you want to be".
    Congratulations on your award for your blog, Catherine. Good luck with it, and most importantly of all, enjoy it!