Today I was back at work and as usual people wanted to know how my Christmas was. Of course that wasn’t the question, the question was “how are you?” but it was obvious my answer of “tired from cycling in strong winds” was not  a good enough answer because even after I rattled on about this and that the direct question “how was your Christmas?” came out. I think my answer was unconventional.

In retrospect, this is the kind of question for which I could have prepared a standard answer if I had thought about it. Unfortunately I didn’t think and instead of saying for instance, how nice it was to catch up with family and friends, the difficulties of travel, what the weather was like, how lovely the presents were, what a fine meal we had, state of health of elderly relatives and the delight of younger members and how they make Christmas; I talked about my personal difficulties with needing a safe haven.

I mentioned the number of people in the house meant that there was nowhere to go and have a lie down, to be quiet, to think, or to write. I talked about the dog being unnerved and whining for me during the night which resulted in me sleeping downstairs with him so the rest of the household could rest. Whilst this was a positive thing in the sense the rest of the family went to bed early so I had the dining room/TV room to myself at night; daytime meant I had to pack up and evacuate the room for other activities which was rather unsettling.

I was able to lie on my power driven blow up mattress in the mornings but there was not really any peace there. The early rises slept in the room above me, listened to and chatted about the radio in the nearby kitchen and went shopping through the front door next to my “bedroom” in the car parked outside my window. As time went on more and more people would arrive in the kitchen, more conversations would break out which usually turned into general merriment. People were enjoying themselves which is great and traditional and all that but rather difficult for me to filter out when trying to find something to write about on my blog. My anxiety levels seemed to be high but I couldn’t work out why really which has a reinforcing effect on the anxiety.

There seems always to be noise in London. Cars on the nearby motorways, planes landing at Heathrow and people chatting. Go outside and it gets worse. Drivers honk their horns at the least bit of hesitation, accelerated fast and break hard. Supermarkets are crowded with unfriendly cashiers and the birthday cake my daughter has identified back in Scotland is not locally available. Is this a stream of moaning? Looks like it. It is me though, recognising the good things in the stress is tough for me but not for others, in particular there are a few visitors who are nothing but enthusiasm, engaging and thoughtful. They are a pleasure to be around because they also are happy to be quiet too.

I wonder what enables people to be this way. Is it how they were raised? Is it how their brains are wired, or do they do something that reinforces such joy? What can I learn from them? So many questions with no answers. Whilst places can be fascinating those memories fade all too quickly it seems, but spending more time with people seems to be an improving thing on the whole particularly where these people are of a younger generation.  That’s a good thing to recognise.

Generally then, there were lots of difficulties for me this Christmas but the highlights were meeting people and going for long walks with my dog. Combining both the latter activities were even better (particularly when Pokemon Go was included!). I will try and remember that for the next time somebody asks me about the holiday; perhaps I will be able to say the same about New Years.