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After Christmas...New Year looms

So, Christmas is over for another year. The decorations are still around, the tree is languishing in the corner, the cats are still hopeful that there may be turkey in the fridge and there is a pile of presents waiting to be put away. My favourite time of the year is coming to an end. Soon the lights will be taken down and I'll have to look at a dark garden again. How I hate the New Year!

I have to say, although I love Christmas, I did suffer this year. I think I realised for the first time that I love the build up to it, the child-like anticipation, and I love Christmas night onwards, including the days leading up to the New Year. What I've discovered is that I'm not very keen on the day itself.

In my last post, I discussed how to cope with the stresses of Christmas in general, with some tips on the big day. Readers, I found myself using all my own tips and trying to remember the advice I gave to others.

I spent some important time loitering in the kitchen; I sneaked onto the computer too, laying aside the guilt at not being downstairs with the family. Refreshed, I returned and carried on. I had to cope with the turkey not having defrosted (my fault, predictably) and, thanks to some very helpful American websites, discovered I would not kill everyone by cooking it from frozen.

I forgot to wrap some of the presents until the day itself. I've no idea how I managed this, but there we are. It's amazing how quickly you can work when you've pretended to only pop upstairs for your socks.

I also forgot the potatoes. Yes, next to the turkey, I forgot a major ingredient of the meal! I know how this one happened as I looked at the potatoes in the shop, decided which ones to buy then intended to come back for them at the end, so that I wasn't carrying them around. My brain then thought I had actually bought them and imagined they came home with me. I didn't notice until 12pm on Christmas day. Luckily, my mother brought her own and we didn't have to make do with the dreaded parsnip.

I also managed to hear the Queen's speech for a change. I usually try to watch it but have to deal with a background teenage narrative on the state of the monarchy, possible republican tendencies and arguing that Her Majesty should be doing live TV and not pre-recording.

As it was, IT teen, with his unerring sense of when he's not wanted, did turn up at the end of the speech but was distracted by me lugging out a giant bag of rubbish at the same time as listening. He also was tricked by me listening to the speech on the radio, instead of trying to watch on TV, so it was over before he remembered to complain.

By the end of the day, I had come to the aforementioned realisation that there was a part of Christmas I didn't like. I was sitting, trying to stay awake to watch a Muppet Christmas Carol, when I saw that part of my sleepiness was caused by me finally relaxing. I hadn't realised how uptight I was until then. The relaxation could have been caused by Gonzo's narration, or idly wondering why Miss Piggy and Kermit's children weren't some terrifying genetic hybrid, but I think it had more to do with the fact that the part of Christmas I was responsible for was done.

I could now be myself again, with nothing to wrap or remember, no giant worries about whether the fridge door was still wedged shut against feline advances. Content in the knowledge that this was the after part, when anything undone could be ignored and I was free to enjoy the quiet, the presents, the TV, all without that lurching sensation you get when you suddenly worry you've forgotten something immensely essential.

I must have been very happy to have the responsibility part over with for me to fall asleep in front of people. Even when it's my nearest and dearest, I really detest nodding off when I'm not alone. I just know that I'll loll off to one side, mouth open, head back against the sofa, drool dripping gently off my chin. Also, let's face it, there is the security issue. It's not that you expect your close relatives to attack while you sleep, but you may still feel that way, however unreasonable it is.

So, readers, here I am at the end of my big countdown. Christmas is over (it pains me to say that) and New Year looms. Responsibility is stirring in its slumber, roused by all the talk of New Year's resolutions and new starts. The feeling that, as this year passes and another one takes its place, we have to face everything with renewed vigour, as if the holiday season rejuvenated us, instead of bringing us to our knees.

Am I ready to face this new start, this imitation epiphany full of stout promises and rosy-hearted planning? No, not at all; are you? How about we all take the approach that has served me so well over many years? I say NO to new resolutions, as I know each day brings its own, unique challenges. I say NO to Auld Lang Syne, as I cannot bear to remember all those I've lost and would rather picture them alongside me still.

I also say NO to new starts. Let others join the gym, change their job, make themselves over in whatever way they like. As aspies, we do that all the time, as we shift focus and redo our lives to suit what works right now or whatever obsession is running us at the time.

We know that new starts are not made just once a year. Nor are they followed through with deliberation and forward planning. No, new starts are with us always, whether we like them or not and we view them as an untrustworthy but familiar friend.

If you love the New Year, then enjoy yourself and pay no heed to my grumpy meanderings. But if, like me, you're wary of this time when all is expected to be bright and clean, take heart in the fact that aspies have the capacity to celebrate New Year at anytime, without need of wine, song, fireworks or tolling bells.

All we need is the ability to look past today and see tomorrow. That one step from here to there fills us with as much anticipation and dread as any New Year reveller feels with the sound of bells echoing in their heart.

I will say, Happy New Year to all, as I do wish it for you. Just don't say it too often to me, as it reminds me that Christmas is done!


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