We had a major success at the weekend. We managed to put up the Christmas tree with barely any fighting, I didn't end up crying on the sofa, there was no storming upstairs and past Christmases were only mentioned twice in a growling whisper.
Granted it's now 5 days later and I'm still surrounded by bags of unpacked lights and decorations, but the tree is up!
I love Christmas, I'm horribly Christmassy, but still I haven't been able to face going out into the garden to put the lights up, or decorate the house, or even the baby fir trees I bought a month ago which are sitting bare-ass naked on the windowsills.
It feels like an ache, to imagine doing these things, like I'm anticipating the pain of a cross-country run in the middle of February. I'm Putting It Off, hoping for a sudden rush of courage so I can gather it all up and do the rest of the decorating.
At the same time, those people who live in a more normal world are out there spending their own bodyweight buying presents and still complaining about how short of time they are. Their houses are decorated so far past anything I could achieve.
I was transfixed the other day by a snow-twig centrepiece and shiny, glitter candles in one house. In another, my student looked up to catch me staring, open-mouthed at her ceramic Santa and I had to make something up to stop her worrying. (In fact, I had just imagined the creepy Christmas poem I posted here, so it wasn't a wasted strange moment).
All this grandery and I'm sharing the sofa with an aged cat and a giant bag of unplugged lights.
And still, I go on and think, tomorrow I will do it, tomorrow it will be time to get up and face Christmas, this thing that I love which is still difficult and strange, as if I never met it before and didn't know what to say.
It's an aspie irony that even those things I love most can still be hard to do, simply because they mean Change. I could kick myself sometimes.
I might do what I did last year. I waited til it was dark and went out into the garden to string up the lights. I couldn't see what I was doing and got whipped in the face a few times by stinging branches, but it meant I could light the lights and watch them sway in the dark as I arranged them, blown in the wind, moving as if there were no trees around them.
It was awkward and wet and I kept slipping and getting stuck in the bushes and I loved it. Hanging the lights to change my garden and face Christmas became an adventure with tiny stars gathering all around me in the night.
It was magical, in the end, and it didn't matter that I was wet or had fallen or that my face was covered with rain - all magical adventures are uncomfortable, ask Bilbo - I was there, alone in the dark and surrounded by the lights of Christmas.
I guess I have my answer and can finally make room on the sofa. Tonight, in the dark, with my hair tied down so I don't become one with the bush again, I will go out and string the lights. And, one by one, they will blink into life and become Christmas for me.
And how brave I will be.