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Day forty

December 10, 2016

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Actually, it’s not really feeling at all like Christmas, although yesterday’s dump of snow (now being turned into slush by rain) did have a Yuletide feel to it.

Question of the day: Do I buy a Christmas tree? If I can find one that’s small enough, I can rearrange the furniture in the livingroom to squeeze one in.

It’s a tradition, isn’t it? For as long as I can remember, I have loved decorating the Christmas tree, first with my mum, then in my own home. There are a couple of decorations in the box, including the angel for the top of the tree, that go back all the way to my childhood. All the decorations have some sort of story attached to them. There are the wooden ones – teddy bears and rocking horses and Santas – purchased with my mum when we stumbled across the first year-round Christmas store I’d ever seen during a trip to Stratford in the late 1980s. There are the beautiful cobalt blue and purple glass balls a friend gave me one year after I’d waxed lyrical about them in the shop where she was working, there are the ornaments I’ve picked up in my travels, from Prague and Paris and Amsterdam and Edinburgh and Venice and Banff (the latter a Mountie). There’s the typewriter decoration Mike bought for me one year, still one of my favourites (suggesting as it does that the owner is a writer). They’ve all got some memory attached to them which I think about as I add them to the tree.

I have a long standing Christmas tree decorating tradition. It always involves a glass of sherry (a throwback, I suspect, to decorating trees with my mum when I was older). And there is the cheesy Christmas pop songs CD that is played. I do enjoy the ritual.

I bought a Christmas tree last year (and the year before and the year before…) and I do remember enjoying the ritual of decorating it. And, yes, it was lovely having the tree lights on of an evening.


How lovely is this? The view from my desk of the Christmas tree, two cats curled up close to the roaring fire. (If you look closely, you can probably see the typewriter.) Could anything be a more Christmassy sight? I doubt it.

But here’s the thing. Three weeks after putting the tree up, as much as I might have enjoyed decorating it and had enjoyed the glow of the lights as I watched Christmas films or read my Christmas present books, as I was taking it down, I realised: Not a single person (other than me) had seen the tree. In that three week period that included Christmas and New Year’s, not a single person had visited me. And it made me feel so lonely.

I’m not saying there weren’t people I could have invited over. There were, but I didn’t. Nor did I have a single invitation to anyone else’s home, other than Christmas dinner with some mates who live nearby. (Since Mike’s death, I have spent most Christmases with friends who live on another island, but last year they were away for the holidays.) I’d been planning to simply cook myself a turkey breast (or perhaps, if such a thing could be found, a venison steak), but these mates insisted I shouldn’t be alone. I accepted. When I got there, it turned out that three other couples were also attending. Even though I didn’t know these other couples and even though I’m not always at me best around strangers, it was jolly enough for a while, but eventually I hit a wall. Most of the time I can cope reasonably well with my solitary status, but sitting for two or three hours with an assortment of couples who all have their shared memories and their shared futures ahead of them did my head in. Like putting out the tree no one had seen two weeks later, it made me ache with loneliness. I left early.

This is, as I’ve now detailed, my third go round with medicating the black dog. The first time I had a similarly afflicted more-than-friend to help me get to the other side of it. The last time, even though it was only three years ago, I don’t honestly remember what – if anything – I did other than taking the meds for over a year. I know I threw myself into directing and appearing in plays. I know I did nothing to get the exercise which would supposedly help. I know I didn’t sit down at the computer every morning to write something for at least fifteen minutes. I know this time I am doing more to take control. How successful this will be remains to be seen. Perhaps another novel will magically appear. (Which reminds me, dear readers, that so far I’ve only had one response to yesterday’s question. Seriously, I do want suggestions. What next?)

Now, back to the Christmas tree question.

What the hell. I’ve invited some friends who were particularly helpful with the panto over for a thank you dinner next Thursday. Someone other than me with see the tree. So I’m going to get one.

Perhaps when it’s up and decorated it really will begin to feel more like Christmas.

From → Black dog diary

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