I carelessly cast aside the flaps of a thick cardboard box, eager to meet its inner contents. I am greeted with mounds of replicated green; lifeless yet beautiful in its delicate and linear form. That smell of freshly melded plastic wafts up my nostrils and fills me with a special kind of festive glee. I waste no time in its liberation, only to find myself wrestling with its pointy spikes of plastic pine hell as I attempt its assembly. My sidekick is simultaneously engaged in her own warfare against a helpless Missoni cushion resting on my teal couch. And after much unnecessary palaver I finish and take a small step back to admire my handiwork. Pleased, I reach for a smaller package containing copper and navy baubles and begin the lengthy process of adorning the tree in coordinated mirth.
I begin rocking around the Christmas tree to the croons of classic Dean Martin, who sings a blithesome tale of snow and his lover. I perform a (graceless) choreographed dance for my sidekick who lays unnaturally atop the defeated cushion, completely bemused. She’d roll her eyes at me if she could.
This time last year, this was how I envisioned the following Christmas to be. That I’d be in my own place living by my own rules and basking in a new-found freedom. Most importantly, revelling in my very first Christmas. A Christmas were I could be as ridiculous and kooky, decking my halls with boughs of holly and immersing myself with the feel of Christmas flitting about in the air. I could lavish gifts upon my sidekick and myself and all without being cast judgement.
But this is not my Christmas. Instead I find myself in a mirrored situation, frightfully similar to the previous year. A Christmas brimming with humbuggery and despair. Once again having to justify the need for unravelling the Christmas tree and being alone in its placement and decoration. Feelings of anxiety and panic begin creeping back. That unwanted friend I hadn’t had the pleasure of its company for some months now is back, along with emotions of doubt and predictable misery. This should be a time of perpetual peace and joy yet for me it could not be further from the truth.