Just before Christmas, tragedy hits harder than it usually would. How much harder is it to be sad during Christmas? Quite substantially. December is the best month for those who are happy. For the lonely, sad or grieving, however, it is a nightmare. All those carols reminding one of childhood or those times when things were still alright can be a painful experience. In the light of this thought, bad news always have a bigger effect on me around Christmas time. When I heard six Christmas shoppers were killed in my former home town of Glasgow yesterday because a lorry crashed into a shopping alley I immediately thought of the families: not only did they lose loved ones but they probably had the feast of love all planned out with them. Now they will be unwrapping their presents themselves.
Two years ago, a tragedy that occurred far away from my own life ruined my Christmas. The horror that was the Newtown shooting caused me lots of tears and I couldn't even fathom what the affected must have been through if I was already a mess. Such tragedy would have devastated me any other month as well. It was the thought of Christmas, however, that made me ache even more. Those dead little children had been looking forward to it so much, their parents probably had presents wrapped already and the young families would have been perfectly happy on Christmas if it hadn't been for a mad man. This kind of tragedy doesn't ruin Christmas, it ruins your life. For the rest of their lives they will hear those songs, see those decorations and remember when their lives were ripped apart at Christmas time.
It is the fact that Christmas comes back every year and will bring with it the memories of Christmas past. I had some of the best times of my life at Christmas time. Last year, my Christmas was so good it made up for the fact I had to skip it this year. November last year was one of the worst months of my life so that when I started working at the Christmas market which allowed me to meet a lot of people and drink lots of mulled wine I was so relieved it made me very happy. Three years ago, at Christmas, I spent it with a boy for the first time which made it ultimately more enjoyable. And some of the fondest memories of my life come from spending Christmases with my adopted California family in times when my own family was in pieces. Every year certain songs come on it takes me back to those beautiful memories when I was a child waiting for Santa who was ultimately my Dad who is now gone. But when those beautiful memories are horrible ones Christmas is no longer a joy.
From now on Christmas won't be a holiday for those who lost children and partners in the Glasgow lorry crash or at the Newtown shooting. But throughout the year people have lost loved ones, and the first Christmas without them is the worst. I wonder what it is about Christmas that makes people suffer from loss more; I think it's the fact that it's supposed to be the season of joy and happiness so it's disappointing when it's not. It's also the memory of all those beautiful times we had around Christmas in the past and the childish anticipation we still have every year leading up to the holidays that make it a bittersweet affair. Having a successful Christmas is ultimately reflecting a good year and when it's hasn't been one the feast will be equally sobering. When our lives are struck by tragedy, Christmas becomes a challenge. Therefore I'm truly blessed I might not have Christmas but I have the love, the happiness and the time off work that it stands for. And that's what Christmas really should be all about.