How are you going to celebrate your self this festive season?
I don’t mind admitting that I found it very difficult to get my head around this question. For me, the festive season is not about celebrating me at all; it is about celebrating Christmas (in its religious sense) well, either preparing to do so (both in the solemn observance of Advent and in, e.g., practising Christmas music) or actually doing so; it is about celebrating friendships and relationships, even where that’s a slightly desperate greetings card whose implied message is ‘I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch ALL YEAR! I do still like you and want to be your friend; I’m just a bit rubbish!’ Celebrating myself hasn’t really entered into my consciousness. Part of that is the fact that I spent a lot of the last three months thinking that I was not worthy of celebration, because my brain was doing that annoying thing where it wants to kill me. Part of it is not really having thought about it.
This Reverb project, however, is a sort of celebration of myself. What I do every year, towards the tail end of December, is spend a while taking stock of who I am and where I want to go next. This, glorified meme though it be, is a good way to do that. It involves my taking a long, hard, look at myself, accepting what I see, and moving on. That sounds simple, but it can, as I implied the day before yesterday, be terrifying. One never quite knows that one’s going to like what one sees. So just saying, ‘Right, I’m actually OK,’ and moving on, is in itself a celebration.
Perhaps, though, I should do something frivolous to celebrate myself, as well. But what? I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll go for a very long walk some time between Christmas and New Year. And (looking at other people’s comments on the prompt post) I might get myself a nice dress; it’s been a while since I had a new one.
What made you dance in 2012? What made you weep?
Depressingly, the answer to the second question comes to mind much more readily than the answer to the first. I have wept frequently and passionately this year, as much over things inside my own head as for those outside it. There was one particularly bad night in October, when I was suddenly sick to the back teeth of all kinds of activism. Since my job is activism, since family harmony relies on activism, since my philosophy has pretty much always been based on making the world a better place – the logical extension, I’m afraid, of the idea that the only two possible careers for a Christian woman are that of missionary and nurse – this was a problem. Dust and ashes territory. I cried quite a lot that night.
And this year I cried, for what I think was the first time since 2005 and Jean Charles de Menezes, over a news story. The Synod vote, of course: no, we won’t actually be having women bishops this time, either. That hurt. That hurt like a kick in the gut, feeling that my own Church didn’t want me, the more so because we all thought it was going to go through at long, long last. It wasn’t personal, but it felt like that.
As for dancing, well, I think 2012’s most joyful moments did involve literal dancing. Cousin G’s wedding was tremendous fun, featuring all the aunts and uncles and almost all the cousins together, a jazz band, a cheesy disco, and my brothers and the N. Kirby boys marching in to When the Saints Go Marching In. We are not a particularly close-knit family, but we don’t half get on well when we are all together.
Apart from that (and, similarly, Coz Ed’s post-wedding wedding party, though there was no dancing there) my moments of joy have mostly been very simple, more like overflowing contentment in the face of great beauty. Stopping to listen or to look, when I’ve been walking, when the sky or the sea have been so huge and beautiful that I couldn’t not be happy. The goslings at Jacob’s Well. Whitened cobwebs in the frost this morning. Walking from Blackgang to Niton late in the afternoon, with the sunlight falling slanted and gilding the trees, and the cliffs like ivory, and the shadows very black, watching tiny people walking up to St Catherine’s lighthouse, and beyond that the sea going on and on and dancing in the end of the day.