My therapist tells me I need to take back the power that Christmas has over me. To be fair, I was the one who rocked up on her doorstep, hands shaking because the humidity had risen the night before and I had been assaulted by the smell of rain, cut grass, the familiar cloying beetle smell; summer was a breath away and I had been holding that breath in since October. The problem with complex brain fuckery is that there are so many fractures in your head that scissor and jaw their way into your psyche through the slightest sensations – smell, sound, even air temperature – tiny triggers that spider their way across your brain and trigger a cascade of somatisation, body-shutdowns, panic attacks and suicidal ideation. Every year compounds on the last – and deep underneath it all is this kid who is crying that she loves Christmas, and can all of the weird shit just stop, for a second, so she can breathe in the summer, and feel the rain on her cheeks and in her eyelashes and just for once go into a department store without earphones, and can she just be allowed to not hate capitalism for a few weeks, and sing songs about sleigh rides even though it’s 40 degrees Celsius, and can the current owner of this body just please…please just stop waiting for the other shoe to drop, stop waiting for the leaving, the unmaking, the aftermath.

I think I’ve been distancing myself from Christmas for a long time – not just because of trauma and the usual brain chemistry issues – but because it doesn’t sit well with me philosophically – from a religious or capitalist point of view. I’m kind of against the whole bastardisation-of-Jesus-propaganda-and-punitive-Santa-threats (not to mention the fact that it 100% instills magical thinking anxiety in children, who then become anxious adults, even moreso if they’re neurodivergent….and I’m going to stop now).

So we’ve decided to scale back the Christmas and focus on the Yule traditions instead. (Yes I know it’s not Yule in the Southern Hemisphere – but if you can sing Christmas songs about sleigh bells, then I can make a goddamned wreath) . Minimal decorating; swapping out tinsel for homemade blessing balls, star-anise garlands, alters and offerings. Heavily curated music lists, played sparingly. Avoiding the shops altogether, instead making time for musicals and beach walks, spending time baking cookies or in the pool with spiked gingerbread iced lattes. Christmas Day will be a simple lunch where we can control the menu and stereo volume, and give out simple (mostly homemade) gifts with handprinted cards.

So far, we’ve pulled most of it off.

I also want this time of year to be a time of reflection. 2021 was perhaps the most important year of my life to date, so I’m going to put together a few posts over the coming weeks. I loathe the word gratitude, but until I find a better one, that’s where it’s headed.

P.S Five days until Hamilton! Third time lucky. Here’s hoping Sydney can keep its shit together this time.