“Try to imagine a house that’s not a home,
Try to imagine a Christmas all alone …
It’ll be lonely this Christmas …”
So sang the English glam rock band Mud in the 1970s in their slightly depressing number about a lost love – a song that no doubt gets a lot of people thinking about their aloneness. As if Christmas wasn’t enough on its own to stir up feelings about who’s there and who isn’t.
I’m pleased to say it won’t be lonely for me this Christmas and my house is very much a home. For the first time ever, I’ll be hosting Christmas with my partner in the house we bought together in March this year.
For some people my age – 45 – this would be no big deal. They’ve been hosting Christmas with their partners, husbands or wives for years, inviting friends and family over, decorating Christmas trees and, in many cases, wrapping piles of presents for the little ones.
They know how and when to order turkeys (we didn’t have a clue), how to make the perfect roast potatoes (Jamie, help!) and how to set the Christmas pudding alight.
But I’m new to all this. I came to the party a little late.
So what was I doing for all those years when my contemporaries were getting married, having children and hosting Christmas? At the start, I was travelling the world, living abroad and building a fantastic career in international journalism. I was spending Christmas on the beach in Acapulco or heading to magical New York for New Year.
At the same time, I was in and out of relationships with a series of men who, I see now, couldn’t meet by needs. Many were physically, geographically or emotionally unavailable – afraid of commitment and scared of intimacy.
I didn’t know it at the time, but so was I.
I had no idea that the reason I was drawn to unavailable men was that I was unavailable myself. I had no clue that the reason I couldn’t get boyfriends to commit to me was that I was terrified of commitment. And I didn’t understand that I ran away from men who were willing and able to have a relationship because I was scared of loving in case I got hurt.
It took years to see that I was the common denominator in all of my relationships and that I needed to do some work on myself before I was ready to love deeply and accept love in return.
So for many Christmases, I was the 30- or 40-something single, childless female who’d take a train to North Wales to spend Christmas with my brother and his family, dragging my case behind me, being picked up at the station, doing the washing up instead of the cooking and always feeling odd, like a little girl, like I’d missed out on some key life stages, like I’d failed to grow up.
Those Christmases could have gone on forever, only I didn’t want them to. So some years ago, I took a deep breath and looked inside and slowly, with the help of therapy and other support, began to figure out where I was going wrong in my relationships.
It was a long, sometimes painful journey but it was worth it. I finally get to cook my own turkey, pour the champagne and host Christmas in my home with the man I love.
So why the tears?
Well, as I wrote above, I can’t help feeling that I arrived late to the party and at times I feel sad about that. I was 43 before I committed to my partner and our journey together hasn’t been an easy one. We both still have commitment issues so while I’ve watched other friends move swiftly from relationship to engagement to marriage to children, we move at snail’s pace.
And when it comes to the final stage, the kids, once again I got here too late. Not only that but my own upbringing and all the psychological baggage I’ve worked through and am still working through mean I’ve always been ambivalent about being a mum.
But Christmas is one of those times when it’s all about the children and I can’t help but wonder if things could have been different if I’d managed to resolve my issues sooner, settled into a relationship sooner and committed sooner.
For me, it is what it is. I’m amazed I found love and delighted I got to the party at all. I now want to help other women get there.
That’s why I’m so excited about 2017. I’m finally allowing myself to follow my passion, work from my heart and soul, turn my life experiences into something worthwhile and help other women go on a journey to the heart and find love. If you’d like to join us, do get in touch.
In the meantime, though, I wish you a fabulous, love-filled Christmas. And remember, we can always give love to ourselves.