I’ve tried to write this every day since Christmas, and every time I’ve given up, faced by an inability to write anything which doesn’t immediately sink into cliche.
That’s obviously the problem with Christmas. Along with the fullness ad the plenty and the tradition, comes a contentment which doesn’t lend itself to expression. If all happy families are happy alike, so then are all happy family occasions, on the outside, a set of stock images which to the observer are at best tedious; at worst, unbearably smug.
Ironically, given that this was to be the first Christmas in eight years that I spent free from the hormonal influences of pregnancy and breastfeeding, I seem to have spent much of the last week bursting into (uncharacteristic) tears. Whether my defences were lowered through tiredness, illness or general seasonal overwroughtness, the awareness of my sheer luck and its counterpoint, the fragility of happiness) pressed hard on me.
I blogged earlier in the year about the disappearance of April Jones, and how contemplating my happy, healthy children made me feel that I was holding my luck in my hands. So many stories have touched my heart this year, that looking at us all this Christmas, warm, safe and well fed, with no gaps at our table and no hidden dread of what is to come, felt at the same time like the greatest and yet most transient of gifts.
Yesterday, my little girl and I watched Mamma Mia together, and, predictably, I sobbed through the scene where Meryl Streep helps her daughter prepare for her wedding, to the beautiful accompaniment of Abba’s Slipping Through My Fingers:
Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers…
As 2013 approaches, I make no resolutions but this: to try never to take my good fortune for granted, and to hold on as hard as I can to the gift of everyday happiness.