I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. I don’t hate it, I’m not the epitome of the Grinch but I do find it hard work. I’m a bit of an introvert. I’m certainly no hermit but, I like time to myself and the chance to let my brain wind down, so I find the demands on my time and constant need to be sociable at Christmas a bit energy sapping. Coming from a waste management and sustainability background I find the consumerism and subsequent waste excessive too.
I’m not religious. I was brought up with Christian values which have given me an excellent grounding in life. I have nothing against religion, it’s just not for me. I value human endeavour and an understanding of how our world works. I like science! It seems odd to me to celebrate a story that someone once wrote down in a book. A story that hasn’t been challenged for hundreds of years. It’s just accepted and that’s not how science works.
Having said all this, I do still see the value in celebrating the end of a year and it gives us a high point in what can be a long dank period of winter in the UK. If Christmas just covered a week in December I’d be really happy. A chance to have a break, see friends and family, give thanks for a good year and celebrate the slow, slow return of daylight after the winter solstice would be perfect. But Christmas isn’t like that anymore. It starts to appear as soon as the kids go back to school in September and builds and builds from there. Plans have to be put in place. Who’s going to whom at Christmas, what gifts would the kids like, what gifts would we like. It can get overwhelming.
Christmas has undoubtedly become more fun since I had children. They do get excited, a little too much occasionally, but it reminds me of the excitement I used to feel as a child. Presents, food and Christmas music were my main highlights.
For the last three years, alongside my children’s excitement, I’ve had an added gift from Disney. The delivery of a spanking new Star Wars film each year. Nothing festive, no glitter, no jingle bells, no santa. Pure escapism! Always watched at the little cinema near my brother’s house often with my brother, nephews, Dad and husband in tow. That has been the highlight of Christmas for me for the last three years. It’s even lead to acceptance of a decent Christmas jumper. I know some of you will be pulling a massive eye-roll on me right now but, you know, each to their own.
Alas, this year Disney (and yes it still feels odd that I’m not referring to Lucasfilm here!) hasn’t provided. I have no new Star Wars to watch. No family trip to the flicks. However, my Dad’s been rather generous with advent calendars this year, sticking to the Christmas Star Wars theme. Yes, the boys have been given Lego Star Wars ones. They are very excited, though according to my Mum, I actually looked more excited than they did (nothing to do with my closet love of lego and Star Wars obviously). Dad’s also treated my Husband to a beer calendar and me to a gin one – I may be found lying in a ditch by Christmas Eve if I attempt to tackle it daily!
Given our rather excessive advent calendarage this year it got me thinking about the season and what this time of year means to me in relation to swimming. I love swimming outside in the summer but, winter open water swimming holds a whole other world of challenge and adventure. It’s a very different sport to summer swimming. So, with this in mind I’m going to attempt a swim related advent calendar. My plan is to post a photo, activity or feeling, alongside my excessive gin consumption, each day of advent. To give thanks for another awesome year of swimming, to show people what it’s like and to spread the joy of freezing your bits off in cold water!
Wish me luck and brace yourself for a barrage of ridiculous photos.
I’ll be posting on here, Instagram, Twitter and my personal facebook page. Please follow the blog or via Instagram or Twitter @openwaterwheway