Come with me as I take you on a journey through the eyes of fictional character Abs Williams, of Nigerian descent (Abs being short for Abiola and the surname a result of colonisation) as he prepares for his 25th Christmas.
I can remember my first Christmas. A happier time as a child where my greatest worries were missing an episode of the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers. I don't remember much about having a grand feast, all I remember is living in a cramped flat with mum and dad. But at that age, those things don't matter much, as it's all I'd ever known. What stuck out to me about that Christmas are two gifts. One was a Nintendo and the other, an envelope with two crisp £50 note. Just as quick as I began to let my mind wonder and imagine which goodies from the Argos catalogue I was going to invest my money in, my mother offered to look after the envelope's contents as I indulged in the Nintendo until my heart was content. I never saw the envelope, nor it's content, again. I guess this proves money can't buy happiness, ignoring the fact that the primary source of my happiness that Christmas was, of course, bought with money.
There weren't many more Christmases like that, as divorce took it's toll on my family but one thing I held onto was the necessity to be happy on Christmas. A feeling that grew stronger during every sad Christmas I ever had.
Fast forward to today. A father who has reentered my life after many years away; for this I hold no malice against him. He has a new family and they have a seat saved for me at the dinner table. What my father fails to understand is that in the years of his absence I have moulded myself into the man I have become, flaws and all. Telling me that my younger paternal half-siblings from his side that I barely know want to spend Christmas with me does not make me flinch, my mother can tell you that. And that seat, I'm afraid, will remain vacant. Least on Christmas Day.
A mother I deeply love accepts my stance on Christmas. I think Christmas died a long time ago for her in the face of struggle, trial and tribulations. Due to this, I opt not to spend Christmas at home. As the years tick on, the line between friends and family blur and, I believe, they become one. Through those blurs I find solace and spend my Christmas dwelling in happiness and inner-peace, by choice. Selfish, perhaps, for not taking into account my younger siblings from my mother's second unsuccessful marriage, who can't understand why I don't spend Christmas with them. But, I ask, is selflessness really worth the sacrifice of the self? The truth is only ever subjective.
I see how the family of my fiancé, and all of their extended family becoming one during the Yuletide period and it gives me hope. Hope that the foundations she has will be instilled when we build a family of our own. The Christmases I never had. In a big house with a big dining table and the whole family brought together as one. My day and his family. My mother and her family. All as one family.
The cracks in the glass may always remain but if we can hold it together, even just for one day, then perhaps we can guarantee the generations to come the Christmas that we never had. A Christmas where happiness need not be manufactured and the childlike purity and innocence be never broken, but instead, embraced, honed and replicated. The way it should be.
Currently listening to: P!nk - Family Portrait (Live at VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards 2002)