Here I am, finally coming back to post after a well deserved rest from my miraculous feat of delivering presents to children all over the world, recovering from having eaten millions of mince pies and suffering perhaps the greatest sherry hangover in history.
Sorry to disappoint, but whilst I believe wholeheartedly in the Spirit of Christmas, I'm pretty sure I am not it.
I wish I had been in Lapland, wrapping presents and writing lists, because in the last few weeks, I have been having what could only be described as a 'major drama'. As one part of a large family, 'major drama' is something you just come to expect, like chicken pox and homemade left-over-vegetable soup for dinner. It's a proven recipe for disaster; you mix people who possess similar genes, who live in a similar environment, who have very different opinions and you will almost certainly get 'major drama'. (Anyone who has spent Christmas with family will know exactly what I am talking about).
Falling out with strangers is easy. You say some angry words (either under your breath, behind their back, or to their face- depending on how brave you are) and then forget about it once your pride has taken a little knock.
Falling out with family is so much more difficult. So, you're having a bit of a word, because quite frankly, you don't agree. You're just about to bring up that thing which you know will wind them right up, when you hear a niggling little voice. Annoyingly, it reminds you to be careful about what you say and how you say it, because whether you agree or not right now, they'll probably be back in your life at some point in the future.
You huff, because that's the last thing on this Earth you'd want after they've just said that.
The voice persists and niggles you again. It says that whether you think you do or not, you actually love this rather annoying person with these outrageous opinions. But because you're human, emotional and have a very different point of view, you ignore the niggling voice and go right ahead and say that thing- loudly, so that everyone else can hear.
There. You feel better for all of about two seconds. Then it hits you worse than an anger explosion. It's the lurker, the meddler of all emotions; guilt.
Let me tell you, nothing is worse in a 'major drama' than the guilt. It's going to get you and get you good, until you do something about it.
It pokes you when you're eating your coco-pops in the morning, prodding as you're chatting on the phone about dinner, slyly creeping in as you're quietly driving home or nudging you in the shower. It even gets you in the middle of the night.
Some people live with the guilt poking them for days, weeks, months and even sometimes years. They learn to live with the bruises (which have been known to turn them blue). They'll insist that it gets better, that the pokes turn into taps, which eventually brush right past you. They swear it disappears.
But I don't buy it. Not for one minute. After three weeks of pokes that jabbed right in my stomach and consumed every last part of me until I had turned almost completely blue, I stopped. Just before Christmas.
There is no good time to have a 'major drama', least of all at Christmas. All around me were signs of peace, light and joy. I couldn't help but notice fairy lights on the Christmas trees, lit up wreaths on bright front doors, candles glowing in windows all around the town and that warm Christmas spirit in the air, telling me that there was truly light in London. But there was not a bit of light shining inside of me, not even enough to write one letter to create the first word of a new post.
So I picked up the phone and I called. The right words were the hardest to say, and dropped like my shoulders as I slid weakly on the bed. During those moments in our conversation when I felt human and emotional and had a very different point of view, I fell silent, not daring to interrupt that niggling voice in my head.
There's nothing good about holding it in, about being too proud and stubborn. But I promise you, there's something brilliant about being brave and speaking up with the right words- even if it wasn't all your fault. Because at Christmas time there should be love. And if you give out love, there will be light, no matter if you've been nudged for just a few hours, a couple of days, several weeks or half of your life. It's just a case of mustering up enough of your spirit (Christmas or not) to do it.