I know I’m not alone when I say good riddance to 2016. It was the kind of year that will go down in the history books as a year that changed the world.
2016 kicked off with the shocking loss of our Star Man, David Bowie…
The year gathered steam with an unprecedented number of celebrity deaths including Sir Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, Muhammed Ali, Prince, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Andrew Sachs, Caroline Aherne and Leonard Cohen to name just a few, while the line up of musicians who left us in 2016 rivals the list of performers who signed up for Band Aid. Christmas brought a fresh wave of public grief: it was George Michael’s Last Christmas and Debbie Reynolds died of a stroke the day after losing her daughter Carrie Fisher to a heart attack.
ISIS continued to dominate the news with terror attacks on European cities and in the Middle East claiming hundreds of innocent lives. And talking of the innocent, more than two million refugees fled war-torn Syria – often to be confronted by hostility, suspicion and closed borders – and thousands more drowned in their attempt to reach a safe haven. As Calais’s Jungle was dismantled, a xenophobic public demanded proof that ‘child refugees’ were actually children.
In June Britain cheered for the underdog as Leicester City won the Premier League at amazing 5,000/1 odds.
But when the British people voted to leave the EU the same month, I knew anything could happen in 2016…
…and sure enough the American electorate voted in a narcissistic sociopath as the 45th President of the United States just a few months later.
Politically 2017 may look just as bleak as The Trump takes the reigns and Britain begins its complicated negotiations to leave Europe. We can but pray for global peace, as living in terror becomes a way of life. But we can only strike forward into the New Year with hope in our hearts and a resolve to embrace the changes ahead – after all “tomorrow is another day”…
Sitting in the Dentist waiting room last week listening to the Receptionists discussing their Christmas plans and whose turn it was to go where, brought to mind a piece of advice my older brother gave me when I got married in November 1983…
“Be careful who you choose to spend your first Christmas with because it will set the precedent for all your future Christmas celebrations”
He spoke from bitter experience having already been locked into the mandatory lunch with his mother-in-law for 10 years at that point. I have friends who complain that they spend hours, days even, each Christmas driving around the country visiting family when all they really want in their hectic, overfilled lives is a few days peace and quiet.
I have told my children that I don’t want to be the “short straw” and they should come for Christmas because they want to, not because they feel it their duty. If none of them can make it home for Christmas fair enough – just let me know in time to make alternative plans is all I ask. That said, they seem to look forward to a family Christmas and my table is always full come December 25th.
But for some, a family Christmas is something to be endured. The pressure is on for everyone to get along and put petty differences – or even family feuds – to one side. TV is oozing with sugary sweet, sentimental adverts encouraging everyone to share their Christmas with family, friends, neighbours and even strangers! In the commercials laughter fills the air, old adversaries bury the hatchet and neglectful families mend their ways.
However, in reality living conditions are often stretched to bursting point so add alcohol into the mix and the result can be stressful at best, explosive at worst!
But Christmas can be a very lonely time – too many people spend Christmas alone and miserable. Charities do their best to bring comfort and joy at this time of year but sadly can only scratch the surface. So what is the solution? Do we have too much expectation invested in Christmas? Should we be sacrificing our own wishes for the sake of others or is it a time when we truly can batten down the hatches and shut out the world?