I had a great childhood, really and truthfully. I had a happy home and loving parents.
My Dad was in the Royal Airforce (RAF) and was often away. So family occasions were important. Christmas was huge… my Dad used to insist we always were all together and we were not allowed to go out and play with friends. The whole day was just family. It was great, I loved it.
When I became a dad I set the same ground rules. We didn’t go anywhere Christmas Day, no one came to our house. If anyone was coming for Christmas Dinner they came Christmas Eve & went home Boxing Day.
It was a bit of silliness, everyone accepted it as a bit of fun.
I even used to fill a rubbish bag with all the wrapping paper and open the back door and just toss it in the general direction of the bin. After all I couldn’t go outside on Christmas Day. My children would giggle and see how close I got it to the bin.
Then my marriage broke down. Thankfully I had custody so I had my children on Christmas Day. But the joke about leaving the house on Christmas Day became real.
I couldn’t step out to put things in the bin. There was a barrier I couldn’t push through. My old jokey approach turned in to a cell.
Don’t get me wrong, part of it I still thought was fine. If I’m having Christmas guests I still think Christmas Eve to Boxing Day is the way to go. It just gets much more of the holiday spirit going. So when my Mum invited me and my Son round to hers one year, my Daughter having flown the nest and started her own family, we went Christmas Eve,we came home Boxing Day. We had fun. Yeah OK we dominated my Mum’s TV… but we had fun.
Two years ago I decided I needed to do something. My Son was 16, I wouldn’t have him at home forever. I needed to get over this self imprisonment on Christmas Day. Otherwise I would end up a very lonely man at Christmas, a season I love very dearly.
We were again at my Mum’s for Christmas. My Nephew was there too, but he was working Christmas Day; he is a chef. So I decided I would go meet him when his shift finished.
We live just outside Leeds, UK. A village called Rawdon. My Nephew works in the next town over, Yeadon. Two thirds of the route is fields so I could fairly safely avoid people. My route was planned and getting out the door was easier than I thought, not easy but I did it. I walked to meet him and walked back. It was a great feeling. However there was something nagging at me, that wasn’t my front door I had managed to cross the border of. My door might be harder.
Last year we were at home. I decided to push at that barrier again, it was harder. The time to leave the house kept being put back and I had had quite a bit to drink by the time my Son said ‘come on, Dad, we ought to go now.’ My Mum didn’t know we were going but if we left it much later it’d be a bit late to pop by. We had given her a present to unwrap but we had another, one she would like more. That helped to get me out the door.
And again, it was harder, but after ding it I felt good. More when I got home again I felt really good.
This year I didn’t leave any presents with my Mum. My Nephew and his Fiance will be there, not given them anything yet either. So tomorrow I will be pushing that barrier again. As I write I can feel tension, it isn’t easy yet. I may always feel that little tug as I cross the threshold. But I will do it and I will keep pushing.
Barriers need pushing sometimes, because something better just might be on the other side.