Last week we went for a playdate at Single Mum’s house. I met Single Mum when we were both pregnant, our boys were born on the same day. We’ve become good friends. She’s one of the kindest people I know. As we talked, our conversation turned to the festive season, and it became clear that she and her boy would be on their own for Christmas. I felt my heart physically ache as she told me that the friends they were going to spend Christmas day with couldn’t accommodate them anymore and they’d be spending it alone. Without hesitation, I invited them to come and spend Christmas with us. I saw relief and happiness in her face as she accepted by giving me a heartfelt hug.
I felt sad for Single Mum. Sad that she is alone at this time of the year, especially as I know how much she’d like to meet someone to share such moments with. And I thought about how fortunate and blessed I am. Fortunate that I will wake up on Christmas morning, and have someone I can share the joy of watching Little Pip’s delight with, as he finds his stocking by the fire. Fortunate that I’ll receive thoughtful presents from Big Daddy and Little Pip, who always make me feel loved and appreciated at Christmas. These two things, that I am guilty of almost taking for granted each year, are lacking from Single Mum’s Christmas experience.
Later, I rang my husband to tell him that I had invited two additional guests to share in our festivities. His generosity of spirit always shines through in these situations; he was pleased that we would have two more friends sitting round the table. Then I sat and worried about Christmas day. I’m a private person, it’s not my natural disposition to mix together people that don’t know each other. It makes me feel stressed. I worried whether my parents and brothers would mind that I had invited extra guests. Next I worried that both my newly single brothers might get a bit too flirty with Single Mum. (Finally deciding that she might enjoy being wooed over a glass of wine and the obligatory Christmas game of Clued0.) I then worried about the possibility of Little Pip getting overwrought with another child arriving and playing with his new toys. I followed this with the thought, that despite my protestations, he’ll probably have been bought so many that there will be more than enough to go round. And finally, I worried my parents might feel that on the first Christmas day I’ve hosted them, (rather than them hosting me), that I’m breaking with our precious family traditions and inviting others in, and it will make them feel uncomfortable. Then I remembered the various waifs and strays they'd taken in over the years; friends that had fallen on hard times, and decided maybe I was doing them a disservice. Of course, they wouldn’t mind. Would they?
Christmas is a time to spend with those you love and care about. In our family, it’s also about family traditions, many of which I hold dear. But finally now, as a wife, a mother and the woman who has taken the baton of hosting Christmas this year, I feel I am in a position to start creating some of my own, and not just echo those of my parents.
So, I’ve set my worries aside, and decided that my first new tradition will be this:
My door will always be open for any of our friends at Christmas. There will always be a seat at our table, and there will be food, wine, warmth and friendship. I will not worry myself about who might get on with who, or whether someone else might be put out by the addition of another guest - or two. Christmas is not a time to be alone. It’s a time to share, to laugh, to feel the joy of human companionship and feel good about life. So, in my house, we’ll celebrate by my Christmas philosophy, and that’s one of inclusiveness. The more the merrier.
I just hope my family feel the same way.