Yesterday was the first Christmas Day that I’ve spent entirely on my own. I’ve done New Year’s Eve alone before, and I’ve done my birthday alone, too; but the different thing about those – I now realise – is that life is going on outside on your birthday and on New Year’s Eve.
Here, in my mum’s house, at the end of a cul-de-sac, there are very little signs of life.
A car will pull up now and then, people will take bags of presents to or from their cars; but there’s very little of the normal background hum of life.
And it was a bit lonelier than I’d imagined it would be. Not that I felt sorry for myself, or for that matter, want any sympathy. It was entirely my choice to spend Christmas alone. My mum and her husband had already booked their holiday when I decided to spend Christmas in Lincoln, and my mum did feel guilty about leaving me alone here when they left a couple of days ago, bless her.
Where the reality of Christmas almost always fails to live up to my romantic view of it, being alone only drives your in the wrong direction from Christmas joy.
So I found myself mindless flicking through the channels on TV. I watched a DVD (Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait). I stood on the back doorstep, smoking and drinking instant coffee. I had a long bath. Put my Marks and Spencer oven-ready dinner in the oven and watched the Top of the Pops Christmas Special.
Then, even though I’m no fan of the monarchy, I sat down with my not-particularly-festival chicken in garlic sauce with roast potatoes and some vegetables (M&S; had sold out of turkey stuff), and watched the Queen’s Christmas Message.
When there’s no one else around, the Queen talking at you is a fairly comforting thing. Still, that was the first of my thirty-eight Christmases that I’ve spent it alone, and it was quite a timely one, I suppose. Over the last couple of years I’ve retreated into a fairly hermitic existence, so this has been a good reminder that this is not what I want out of life.
Still, Finding Nemo was on telly, and that was ace.