This isn’t a post about stories so much as it is about assumptions. Say it’s about default cultural narratives, if you like.

I’m having a quiet Christmas this year. It’s strange – telling people I’m not going to visit family has gotten me sympathy and jealousy both. Relatives wish I was able to be there. Friends who’re dating want to go and see their respective families instead of spending the holiday with their partner.

Either way, it’s a time where there’s lots of complicated logistics going on for much of the population of Britain.

I’m really enjoying not being part of that cycle, where holidays get propped up on a framework of traditions and need to be catered for and decorated and there’s a tangle of social obligation and complicated family politics underlying everything. I went to visit my folks another time when there wasn’t An Official Holiday happening and we were all happy to see each other. Christmassy time. 

And today? I got back from work at about half three on Christmas eve and just did nice stuff I wanted to do all afternoon, no elaborate food prep or Official Hostly Duties to worry about, and even though I’ve been at work for seven hours today it’s still been one of the most pleasant Christmas Eves I can remember.

I want to make this my default, I think: I don’t need a cultural calendar to tell me which days I should take to make time for my family. I can do that any time of year, and doing it any other time of year so far has saved us a whole lot of lukewarm tradition and stress. Let me take holidays to do stuff I’m going to enjoy first and foremost –  sometimes that’ll be seeing relatives and sometimes that’ll be taking the time for myself and sometimes I’ll be spending it with friends or family of choice.