It takes me a while to come to terms with winter; I don’t like being cold and it distresses me not to see the sun for a week. As a result I’ve probably been a little grouchy recently. But now I’ve found my down jacket, my longest gloves, and my thickest hat; I’ve reintroduced my UV lightbox to my morning routine and put the St Johns Wort next to the multivitamins; I’ve dragged myself outside at the weekend, and I’ve remembered:
I love winter.
I love those rare bright perfect crisp blue days.
I love the opportunity to watch the sun rise without thinking too fondly of my bed, and to watch the stars come out as I walk home.
I love curling up on the sofa dreaming great things for next year’s garden and listening to the weather doing its worst outside.
I love the sparkle of the city lights, and the excuse to be out after dark (since after dark is now so early I could hardly avoid it) when the city looks clean and bright and all my senses come to life.
I even love the way the streetlamps make the rain drops on the window glitter.
And above all else I love Christmas. I could soften this –
( I could say that I love baking without worrying that it will never all get eaten, my Mum’s Christmas pudding, and the fact that I’ve converted my in-laws to the concept of Tia Maria and cream as the only rational ending to Christmas dinner; that I love buying fripperies for my loved ones, watching my exuberant nephew open his presents, and getting catch-up letters from old friends who I probably don’t deserve to hear from, given my at best intermittent communication during the rest of the year . . . )
– but I love Christmas, unashamedly, in all its brightest, sparkliest, tackiest glory.
And for me, Christmas done ‘properly’* is such a rich sensory swirl that I couldn’t live with it for more than two weeks any more than I could eat a turkey dinner every day. If other people can, that’s up to them. But in November, in the worst of the murk that the dying year can throw our way, I want my burst of colour as a happy thought to look forward to. I don’t want the reality of windswept decorations looking tawdry and unseasonal against the grey sky of a dull afternoon.
I’m being selfish, I know. But if you take your decorations down on Boxing Day, pleased to see the back of them for the year, perhaps you might want to try it my way. My decorations come down on Twelfth Night, a bare fortnight from when they went up, and they are put away in a spirit of contented melancholy.
And for the rest of the year I have a little island of light and joy to look forward to and plan for in its proper season.
*used in its usual sense of ‘the way it was done in my parents’ house when I was growing up’