Christmas has the potential to be the most wonderful time. Although I’m really a summer person, and I think there’s some correlation between the season you were born in and the season you feel happiest in, Christmas definitely rocks. There’s so much magic around Christmas. I was listening to someone describe Midnight Mass as the chance to walk into the church, sing, rejoice, share sherry and mince pies and then walk out into the beginning of Christmas Day. There is so much to enjoy, and it’s firstly about stopping the busy treadmill of life and pausing to spend time with those we love. Having family and friends together is a number one fuzzy happy feeling, and it’s so nice this year to be able to spend time with precious ones.
I love giving presents; the wrapped gifts represent so much more than ‘What shall I get Aunty Mary this year? Oh, I suppose it’s socks again then.’ It’s about considering what we admire and like most about people and giving them something to reflect that. I do tend to opt for books a lot – books to read and enjoy, books to write in, books to support growth and learning – but this year I was really happy that I could give things that brought smiles to faces. That feeling is priceless.
Then there’s Christmas lunch. It’s indulgent and the ultimate in sharing, but I keep an extra place setting to remember those people I wish were still with me, or just in case a stranger knocks at the door and needs a meal. I made chestnut wellington this year, all the roasties, mushroom gravy – I even made plant-based cheeses. Celebration always gives way to reflection. I remember my own childhood Christmas and how very different that was to the Christmases I’m privileged to enjoy now. Happy times, but not the same.
Then as we approach the new year, there is even more time for reflection. We examine things we have done well this year, things we wish we could have changed and things we are determined to change in the future. It’s good to remember the happy times and to celebrate things we’re are glad about. There were some things that we had no control over and others that we would do differently in the future. The opportunity for New Year resolutions kicks in and it’s a time to be realistic, to have high expectations of ourselves, to make choices that make us healthier or better or safer.
I was very fortunate last year to have three books published and I really enjoyed writing them all. In March 2022, ‘A Year of Mr Maybes’ will come out and, soon after that, my first book in a new genre, currently called ‘The Witch’s Tree,’ written under the name of Elena Collins using my grandmother’s name, will be released. I’m really excited about writing in two genres: it gives me an opportunity to explore different sides of myself as a writer.
My trip to Scotland has been delayed for a few weeks, but I have some book research planned in the Highlands, which I’m very excited about. 2022 will give me an opportunity to write more books and to travel a little, for which I’m always grateful.
This year, I’m determined to spend more time with many of the special people I care about. Previous restrictions has meant that there are friends at both ends of the country who I haven’t seen in far too long and others I haven’t seen frequently enough. My home has been less than the warm welcoming place I like it to be, where I invite friends round to share dinner (albeit plant-based) and enjoy conversations and wine. That opportunity for the meeting of minds and sharing of ideas is incredibly fulfilling, and I’ve been starved of it for a year or two.
There are people I’d also love to meet for the first time – authors I’ve conversed with on social media who are wonderful, supportive and kind people. I feel that I know them already but it will be a great moment when we can actually meet and hug each other.
I have so many plans for 2022, but what about new resolutions? I spend a lot of time reflecting, and I will firstly try to make sure all reflections are positive. Self-destructive thoughts are not helpful, and finding a balance is always difficult. I am mostly a confident person, and generally humble; I usually give people the benefit of the doubt and I’m often told that I’m too kind to people who don’t deserve it. I’m not sure what that means, as I think all people deserve kindness. But now, at the end of the year, it’s time to reflect and consider, not beat ourselves up about the past but examine how we can go forward into a new year with new optimism and new joy. I won’t let too many negatives hold me back: my intention is to embrace life and the people I meet with a good heart and a smile on my face.
John Lennon wrote in his famous song of the coming new year, ‘Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.’ I think that’s a simply perfect way of saying it. As 2022 begins, I’d like to send love and warmest wishes to you all, readers, friends, family – we are all family in a way – and the wish that this coming year will be special, joyful, filled with laughter, and will bring you the happiness, good health and love your heart desires.
Happy New Year.