December 26th, 2020

Christmas bauble

Looking back over 2020 and forward to 2021

For the past few years I have done an annual review at the end of December and started to make plans for the next year. I had chosen "Consistency" for my overall theme for 2020, in particular reading, learning, exercising and taking photos regularly. I can't imagine anyone's 2020 went according to plan, but I did keep up with learning Welsh and taking photos. I also consistently hosted the virtual Welsh chat group using Skype and the local Quaker meeting on Zoom, both weekly.

Exercising started well, but has slipped recently and I have read very little in the way of fiction. I deal with threats and uncertainty by adopting a state of hyper-vigilance which takes the form of wanting to know as much as possible about the threat so I can change my behaviour accordingly and do what I can to prepare. Following the twists and turns of Brexit has been exhausting enough over the past four years, without the added stress of a global pandemic, so there's been a lot of reading factual articles about both. However, I'm hoping that in 2021, with the threat of No Deal Brexit removed and with vaccines and better treatments becoming available, I'll be able to focus more of my attention on my own projects and also be able to relax enough to read more fiction. With so many real problems affecting the UK, it's been next to impossible to be engaged by fictional problems affecting fictional people.

My overall theme for 2021 will be "Consolidation". As well as maintaining my Welsh language fluency this year, I recently started learning Spanish again and that is progressing nicely. Slowly, but nicely. I made 4 videos for my YouTube channel and the last one was quite popular. I'd like to make one every 6 weeks in 2021.

I don't want to take on any new ongoing projects. We might finally be able to get our kitchen makeover done in the summer if/when we get vaccinated against covid (as long as local levels of infection are still low), but that's a one-off. I will, however, resurrect the family history research which was going quite well at one point but then stalled. I've worked out how to stop that becoming an open-ended neverending project, so I'll make a start in the New Year. My motivation will be being able to cancel the subscription to Ancestry once I've finished all the researching I intend to do.

Hopefully we'll be able to start travelling again sometime in 2021. I would like to visit London again. Over the past years we've had mini-breaks in London about twice a year, sometimes more if we were going to join an anti-Brexit demo. We must definitely get to Cardiff to see family, though initially, as soon as the weather is good enough and the days are longer, we'll be meeting them outdoors in a socially distanced way somewhere in the middle of Wales. I may even get to visit my brother in Salisbury.

The local meetings that all moved online will probably start meeting face-to-face again in the summer. We will have to see...
Christmas bauble

Musings on Christmases past

I've actually enjoyed Christmas in a quiet way. Because of the pandemic, the media were more low key this year and weren't giving the impression that if you didn't have at least 20 members of your family with you around the table on Christmas day, you were an incorrigible Scrooge and a mean and horrible killjoy.

I really used to enjoy our family Christmases when I was young, but they were fairly low key too. Because of football (which neither of my parents were interested in) we could only ever have one side of the family gathered together at any one time. My mum only had one sister, who only had one child, so we all did our own Christmas dinner and then met with Gran and Grandad (fanatical Manchester United supporters) and auntie, uncle and cousin for a small gathering, taking it in turns to host. Then on Boxing Day we would go to the paternal grandmother's house to spend time with the aunts and uncles and cousins (fanatical Manchester City supporters) on Dad's side of the family. I also enjoyed singing in the choir and playing in the recorder group at the school carol service, always held in Manchester Cathedral.

So far so good.

It was my mother-in-law who ruined Christmas for me because she always expected so much, and we were always such a disappointment. That, plus a period when money was extremely tight while the children were quite small, has made Christmas very stressful for me even though these days we do our own thing. I suppose the stress is like a mild PTSD from the early years of our marriage while my mother-in-law was still alive. Basically at Christmas I just want to spend it quietly with G eating nice food and touching base with the grown up kids and their children via phone calls, or these days a short video call. I just wish local friends wouldn't always ask, "Are you seeing the family/going to visit family at Christmas?" because I always feel that they must think I'm odd when I say no.

I wouldn't want to ignore Christmas totally. It is nice to have something to celebrate in the darkest time of the year. I put up a tiny tree and a few decorations and we have a roast dinner and buy a more expensive than normal bottle of wine, which is lovely. I just don't want to make a big fuss or have a big family gathering. The fact that no one was supposed to be visiting anyone has made this Christmas less stressful.