CHRISTMAS is a funny old time. On the one hand, there’s the anticipation, the socialising, the wine and gluttony (I’m just speaking for myself here, naturally), the late nights of laughter with family and friends.
On the other, quieter hand, there’s the reflection. The looking back on the year that’s just been, and what might lie ahead. For many, it can be a painful time, a pain disregarded and hidden by the bawdiness of the season. For others, it can be lonely, no matter how many people surround them. A little kindness and thoughtfulness can go a long way.
Some of us will, during the down time, reflect on our New Year’s resolutions to remind ourselves of either how successful we are, or what spectacular failures we are. Regular readers might recall me listing my “aspirations” last January. (“Resolutions”, I felt, required far too much commitment.) It’s probably only fair to let you know how I fared in my five noble ambitions.
Firstly, I resolved to take more time out. Confronting my fear of rain, low-flying birds and absence from social media was a brave move, but I can confirm that I did drag myself out to walk, run and climb more this year than other years. Now, unfortunately, while I feel better, I don’t feel any thinner, which of course just proves that life is just not fair. Don’t go signing me up for any marathons, either; an entire year later and I can still just about break 5km. But overall, I actually think that might count as a success. Kind of.
I also decided to be a better-behaved, less road-ragey driver. Happily, my relocation west in June and the resultant reduction in traffic lights and obnoxious BMW drivers in my life made this a whole lot easier. Unfortunately, due to the relaxed pace of life I now think I have gone the other way and become that Sunday-driver-on-a-Wednesday person I hated for years, ambling along at 60km/hour with one elbow out the window driving everyone else mad. Sorry about that.
In a fit of misplaced ambition I wanted to “try new things”. Like a skill, or a language. Well, I tasted oysters for the first time. And probably the last time. Does that count? No? Fine. Next…
Resolution number 4 was to “Be a better loser”. While I don’t take well to losing at anything, this was mostly in relation to our efforts to land Sam Maguire. My reverse psychology failed miserably and so did my resolve as much like 2014, I spent the entire months of September and October alternating between a monumental sulk and a cloud of despair. But January 3 is only around the corner and we have a new management team and the fire is rekindled. We go again.
Lastly, “reaching out” was probably my most serious aspiration. Looking out for loved ones, making more of an effort. I succeeded with some, failed dismally with others. But I can only try again next year. Being closer to home has meant more treasured times with family, and above all, I’m grateful for that.
2015 was pretty good, all things said. It brought me home. It brought me a new job – a complete departure from anything I’d ever done before - that interested and challenged and educated me every day. It taught me to be less outraged and stressed and more confident and thick-skinned. It brought moments of unadulterated joy and extreme sadness. And at the end of it, being alive and healthy and relatively happy is all that really matters.
As for ambitions for 2016? You’ll have to read the next column to find out.
Wishing you all a happy, peaceful Christmas, with good people and warmth surrounding you. And for those of you who might struggle, know you’re not alone, and that it will pass. See you on the other side.