It has been a tough few months for most people I know. We had the nightmare of how things might go in the lead-up to the election. And then the nightmare came true. We know we have to live with it for at least five more years.
For the past few years, Christmas hasn't felt much like Christmas and, in the context of everything else that has been going on, it would be understandable if it felt even less like it this year. However, we have involved ourselves in a few community activities and reminded ourselves of just how lucky we are to live in a great place, surrounded by great people. Today, on Christmas Day, when we went out for a walk in beautiful surroundings and clear blue skies, with almost everyone ready to wish us a happy Christmas, it really did feel like a day when renewal was possible, which has always been at the heart of the idea of Christmas - or of the celebrations around the solstice, if you prefer.
Perhaps I'm just being seduced all over again by the notion that underpins New Year resolutions and the like but I felt positive for the first time in a long time. Along with the Christmassy feeling, the words of Brecht (I keep feeling the need to quote him at the moment) occurred to me: "Wherever life has not died out, it struggles to its feet again".
2020 won't be easy. It will be a struggle. But on Christmas Day, at last, I feel up to engaging with it.
In the meantime, for what it's worth, here's a poem about a day like today.
A day in the middle of winter
When a year can’t wait to get to its close
we’re left with a day in the middle of winter,
cold, short, hard and bright in the dark,
something that can be everything
by being nothing but itself.
And if that day took on flesh, it might as well
be a new-born baby, not needing precious gifts,
not needing the worship of millions,
just the love of a mother, the support
of a father, whoever he might be.
And if the baby dies on a cross
or lives to old age, rises or stays
in the tomb, it will always have been
that naked, helpless child; and if the days
lengthen, if life stirs, dies back and returns,
there will always have been that cold,
short, hard, bright day in the dark,
with the whole world turning on it.
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