I’m quite a fan of Christmas. I love my family, faults and all. They love me back, they always have and I know they always will. The liberation and contentment that comes from unconditional love is the most special thing on earth I think.
In my last yoga class before Christmas my teacher urged us to talk to the person next to us, to tell them what we most wanted for Christmas. My mind was blank, I didn’t really want anything for Christmas. I just assumed Christmas would be what it alway is: time together with my loved ones. We’re all getting older and over the years Christmas has mellowed into a stable, undramatic adult affair of talking, drinking, eating. Polite bargaining over who washes up the lunchtime pans, and whether we can get out for a stroll before it gets too dark. Nothing grand, positively banal to some. Reassuring to me.
My teacher clearly has more dramatic family relationships than I do, since he was big on the message of bringing yogic openness and peace to the festive season. “Just breathe” he urged us as we drifted away after class, exchanging festive wishes and brief synopses of our holiday plans.
Now in the aftermath of the biggest family row that I’ve ever experienced, I still haven’t found my breath again. I’m looking back on Boxing Day lunchtime and trying to make sense of it all. How the family dynamic shattered apart, with ill-considered words thrown out, all judgment and no compassion.
My role — that of onlooker. I was too taken by surprise to react to this outburst with anything other than silent shock. I’m not sure my yoga has prepared me well for sudden violence.
But I guess it has prepared me for listening and loving. And I’m going to need to do a lot of that over the coming months if I can ever hope to see some bridges being built, after being pretty comprehensively burnt.