Discover more from Jeanette Winterson: Mind Over Matter
CHRISTMAS DAY 2021
I was expecting to be somewhere else today . So this was a break in time.
I woke up, made coffee, took the pot back to bed, and finished the final part of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As it ends on Christmas Morning, I usually start on the 23rd, read again on Christmas Eve, and then finish, joyfully, today. I calculated that I must have read it 50 times. Christmas is about tradition and ritual - so it is right to return to the same things. What changes is us. You and I are not the same. We come back to those texts in our updated selves, and, of course, the text seems to have changed. We know that isn’t the case. What is so splendid is that the text meets our changing selves. That’s why the best books matter; they meet us at the crossroads every time.
Now, it is Christmas night. I am sitting by my wood fire, writing this, listening to carols from Kings’ College Cambridge, because that’s what I do, and love to do. There is only a small window every year to do these things. Then the time is gone. I like it when we can hitch ourselves to time. Sometimes, time is with you. Sometimes, time helps you. Sometimes, time is a player. Christmas is a significant time. Use it well.
The Christmas message is one of hope. No-one needs to be religious to recognise this. This is a festival of light. A festival of new starts. Any of the icons serve as a meditation point; a candle, a tree, a tree lit up, a star, a child, a donkey, a woman who is tired, a woman who is giving birth, a man who stands by her, a gift left by others. The angel. There are many more. The story is simple and small - but it is folded up too- and it unfolds in space.
That space is you.
And it is not about a church or a dogma or a set of beliefs. The story has endured because it is still unfolding. Use it. Use the stories that continue. They are ours to hear and to tell again.
Late at night, now, where I am. There is a silence at Christmas that is like the silence of snowfall. The busy world is muffled. Not a car has gone by tonight. Not here. In the city it will be different, but there will be space. How to make psychic and emotional space is one of the challenges of our lives. No matter how noisy and full Christmas is, with little children and meals to be made, the spirit of the season asks for a response. It might be just 5mins. It might be a deep breath outside the back door. Whatever you can manage, manage it. Use the time. Use the energy in the air that you don’t have to generate. It’s out there. Breathe in. Breathe out. And think of a memory - a shining moment from the past. A good memory. Use your mind, your memory, your breath, and the time you are standing in, right now. And when you sleep tonight, let go of whatever went wrong, concentrate on what went right, and let Christmas Night be what it is; crossroads of past and future. Memory and Hope.