The Mouth of Christmas
I am here, deep in the mouth of Christmas. Its breath is warm and sickly, too sweet and stale.
I am here in the mouth of Christmas and I am weighed down with the expectation of it.
No one who is ready for Christmas has ever been here. This place is only for the unprepared. A factory closes in November and all its employees face disaster, in the mouth of Christmas. A tornado scars the face of a town, houses are splintered and cast about and we watch them on the news, and say to each other, ‘Imagine - and in the mouth of Christmas, too’.
The mouth of Christmas and there’s no money for a child’s toy; the mouth of Christmas and there’s on food for the table. The mouth of Christmas - I look down into its throat, unable to summon the joy that it demands from me.
I am in the mouth of Christmas. Its breath in my face. It sickens me – with its grasping need for me to get involved, to feel the spirit, to spend the money and clean the house.
I have no joy.
I have no joy to offer this mouth, this orifice. But my needs are secondary. It is a red shiny grinning mouth, sucking money, sucking attention, insisting on perfection.
Christmas will happen, people say, as if there is no choice. Let it pass and don’t worry. But I want to take all the work and the expense, all the Christmas expectations and shove them all down that dark throat and close that mouth with my hands, press it shut, scream at it to move on and leave me alone.
Because I am without joy this year.
I will not have it forced on me, forced down my own throat.
All time is consumed by it, all minds are thinking and thinking, planning and planning. And somewhere there are parents who feel the sharp bite of teeth as those jaws crush them, because the child they had is gone, or the money they need doesn’t exist. Somewhere there is a woman standing in the remains of her house, torn apart, all lost. Where does she even begin to start again?
And all in the mouth of Christmas.
It comes through November and December, arriving, relentless and guilt-ridden; a grim and fearful, reminder that poverty is real, and so is grief and loss. And from the charities and the pulpits the call rings out to remember those who are caught in its teeth, the jaws clamped down. Remember that happiness isn’t universal and not guaranteed, that some of us don’t feel the joy. We feel want, pain and sadness.
Christmas could be far away from me, this year. I don’t want it, not this year.
Somewhere there is a warm heart to Winter, a deep slumber, the bliss of a dark retreat where animals rest and where I too can perhaps sleep. I want a cave to spend the dark months in and lick my wounds, alone, resting until my sorrow softens and becomes bearable; let me rest, in with the warm roots, underground, by a bright fire.
Let me be alone.
Keep your Christmas joy, your ringing tills and parcels, your trees, your ornaments; keep your Christmas and keep it far away from me.
Because, this year, I have no joy.
This year, I am in the mouth of Christmas and it is an unkind place.