Well it’s that time of year again and I can’t quite take it in. It’s been a long hard year and yet it feels like it’s gone in a flash.
There have been enormous changes in my life this year and not just to my name. Most of the changes have been positive ones although the process of change itself has been incredibly painful at times.
It feels strangely unreal that in a matter of hours I will be embarking on the first leg of my Christmas trip to Austria. I’m doing the usual coach tour this year but instead of Switzerland I’m going to northern Austria for a change. I’ve wanted to go to Innsbruck for a long time, it’s long been on my wish list and I’m really looking forward to experiencing the Christmas markets there on Christmas Eve and to enjoying a few warming gluhweins too! Hoping to get into the mountains too and do some mountain and landscape photography. I come alive in the mountains in a way I don’t anywhere else.
Going away at Christmas has transformed Christmas for me. It’s still a hard time of year for me and it takes a lot out of me emotionally. It also takes a lot out of me physically and I know I’ll crash for a few days after I come back. BUT having the trips to look forward to takes the edge of things.
It means I’m doing something I enjoy, I love travelling and experiencing languages, cultures, food and drink different to my own. But travelling is something I’ve not been able to do much in my life. So, it may only be once a year but it means so much to me to be able to.
I spend the whole year planning it, saving up and looking forward to it. I always look forward to getting to Dover, wondering who I’m going to bump into from previous Christmas trips. The hardest part of the holiday is always the social times in the evening, finding sociable people to sit and eat with. I don’t find those times easy at all. Even on these coach tours you get the odd miserable people who want to keep themselves to themselves which includes sitting alone at meal times, and woe betide anyone who approaches them. I’ve seen that three times during the last five years and it’s not pretty or in the spirit of things. I really don’t understand why people like that go on holidays like this.
But anyway, as for me, I will enjoy the adventure of going new places, meeting new people, getting by in French and German, drinking the Austrian beer and gluhwein and of course taking the many photos I will take to tell the story of my holiday.
It’s funny now that when I think of particularly Christmas times, I remember them as “oh that’s when I went to Salzburg, Kitzsteinhorn, Interlaken, Bernese Oberland, Eiger, Luzern” etc. Then an avalanche of happy memories drops into my mind and heart.
That’s the beauty of my Christmas trips. I’m creating happy memories for myself. And that’s what’s so precious.
This Christmas I’m grappling with flashbacks and vivid images in my mind of wandering the streets as a child having been kicked out of the house for being ‘a burden’. At least the streets were my safe place. Nothing happened to me on the streets. No-one beat me when I was on the streets or messed with my head. Often I was wandering snowy streets, keeping moving just to keep warm. Often I was on the streets for the entire Christmas period. I remember wandering along staring into so many lit living rooms at families opening presents, watching TV together and so on, feeling so hurt and left out and wondering what it was about me that deserved that. It was a very lonely miserable existence. I know now that I didn’t deserve that at all. But those memories have been very vivid during the run up to Christmas this year.
And I guess that’s one reason why it’s so important for me to create as many happy memories for myself at Christmas time now.
It feels very unreal that before today is done I will be on my way. I think that’s a reflection of the long hard year it’s been.
I’m waiting for the excitement and adrenalin to kick in. Maybe that’ll happen a little when my taxi turns up at 11.15pm tonight and then a little bit more when the feeder coach turns up at 12.30am. I bet when I get to Dover tomorrow morning I’ll be feeling excited and believing it really is going to happen for real.