The (belated) Christmas Post

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas! 🎄😃

Christmas is losing its spunk. Or so, that’s how it’s been slowly starting to feel over the last few years. Originally when I started to think this, I thought ‘surely not’, maybe it’s just a one-year thing, so I pressed the thought down and tucked it away. Kind of like a teen would do when tidying their room – stashing their clothes into a brimming wardrobe and slamming it shut, hoping they won’t have to open it again and experience the cascade of clothes that would occur if they did.

Lovely modern Christmas tree spotted in South London by moi

I suspect, at the root of this feeling is a fruitless comparison to the Christmas days experienced as a child – where it was a holiday that dripped with anticipation. I would watch fun films or bring toys into school to play with, eagerly open my chocolate advent calendar in the run-up to that day and help my dad set up the tree and streamers across the living room. My family would collect Christmas cards like Pokemon cards, often eventually running out of space in the house to hang them. Presents were always an expectation, as is still the case for many children today. I would religiously make lists of what to get each of my closest friends and would also sift for ages at a time through the Argos catalogue to create a present wishlist of my own for my parents.

Nowadays, the holidays aren’t too consumed with presents for me – I typically buy myself one or two gifts to get into the spirit and may also give gifts (if I can) to selected friends. We don’t really bother with a tree and decorations anymore so it’s simply an occasion of Christmas tunes, food and music now. To be fair, I don’t mind having Christmas this way that much, I think my celebrations are less consumer-ist focused now which means I can properly appreciate what matters most  –  family time, ending the year on a high and most importantly, for me as a believer, the significance of Jesus’ birth to [the fate of] humankind (John 3:16).

Thinking about all of this recently it was therefore profound to see this tweet which talks about dwelling less on the Christmas of our childhood and creating a new reality of Christmas which fits our current lifestyle and expectations as adults.

I think there’s an important point to be made there since otherwise, without making a deliberate choice to create this new reality, we’ll always be comparing Christmases that have passed to Christmas now and we’ll always be disappointed.

Who knows, perhaps when or if I have children I’ll change my tune and insist on Instagram-worthy Christmases every year but for now, this is where I stand.

You Had to Be There

Sometimes moments are just for us

Between us two

Between our eyes, between our hearts, between our lips.

As gravity pulls us down and love draws us closer

We’re sworn to silence with

echoes of laughter

It’s often very hard to capture certain moments you experience in words. This is why I’ve often been in awe when celebrities who go on late night shows like Graham Norton retell funny stories with the enthusiasm and enough dramatics in the right places to have you hooked and eventually chuckling. Perhaps the skill partially lies in their acting training, after all mastering the ability to create whole worlds with your words would, naturally I presume, make you a great storyteller. It’s likely they’ve had practice telling certain stories too since I’m sure some have the ability to be natural crowd-pleasers wherever they go.

However, on the other hand, sometimes when I retell a story I can just hear myself letting the story down, not doing justice to the moment itself and how vivid or exciting it was. How scared or taken by surprise I was. Or how elated I felt. It’s almost feels like how when you boil certain vegetables, they tend to lose the goodness they hold in their raw state. You’ve experienced the ‘raw goodness’ of the moment (so to speak) and now or you can serve those who weren’t there is the boiled leftovers of that moment.

Moment 4 Life

To be honest, this inability to capture some moments in words is not always a bad thing. It can actually make you more appreciative of the moments you share with those close to you because it’s likely that outside of the bubble of that moment between you and the people within it, the magic of it cannot be recreated.

Sometimes when on the verge of such moments I often get excited and – with the anticipation – even feel a tinge of sadness as I imagine the moment fizzling to an end and becoming a simple memory. Does anyone else experience that or is it just me? The best way to describe it is like the anticipation you feel as you bake something and are watching the batter rise in the tin through the small oven window. You’ve done everything the recipe instructed, and now you’re expecting greatness. Of course, with moments you experience there’s lot of other factors that come into consideration; even if you’re with your favourite people or person in a great place, moods, actions and conversation need to align to create that magical spark you’ll remember for years to come when recollecting that period. It’s not often the spark happens, but when it does – especially unexpected – it’s really beautiful.

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Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to follow my blog here and on Instagram @TheArtofChatter

Liked this topic? You can find another post I’ve done exploring the nature of memories here or one on special moments here.

*Featured Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Why Sharing is (not always) Caring

I realised quite a while ago that I hate borrowing things to people. As most things do, it probably stems from my experience as a child in secondary school (high school, for the non-British folks).  

Back then I was always eagerly borrowing people my pens, pencils – and even money but rarely getting my items back. At the time I had just started getting into graphic novels; I was reading a fantastic graphic novel series of Manga-version Shakespeare novels which I had borrowed from my local library. After talking to a friend – let’s call her Janie – about the series, something possessed me to borrow her the book, no harm, right? So I thought. After all, I saw her everyday so receiving the book back should be a straight forward process. Janie was in the year below me but we always hung out in the library together since we loved books, they were the main building block of our bond. Days stretched out to weeks and each time I asked Janie about the book she always had an excuse. After buying herself a few months she eventually coming clean that she had lost the book. I remember feeling a sharp pang of disappointment, although it was basically a confirmation of what I had already suspected. 

Don’t lend what you can’t afford to lose 

Now, as a fully-fledged adult, you wouldn’t dare catch me borrow one of my books to someone – they’re prized possessions. Also, my secondary school experience taught me something – once you borrow someone an item of yours, you do so with the optimistic belief that they will treasure it like their own. Of course, this is hardly the case in my experience. A random experience that comes to mind is when I watched someone use my pen in class (which I had loaned to them) and they started biting it. BITING IT. It was probably an absent-minded gesture, something they do with every pen or in the throes of concentrating, but COME ON – biting takes the mick. 

Nowadays I try to control the variables when it comes to borrowing or giving – it has to be something low value, that I can deal with losing or that I have many of, and has to be to someone I trust to a certain degree. So, chocolates or sweets – yes. Books or a prized pen gifted for my birthday – No, absolutely not. Boundaries such as these, I’ve learnt are the key to stress-free borrowing (if such a thing exists.) 

One of the reasons I take this seriously is because – like it or not – not being able to trust someone with your things can negatively affect your relationship with them. You may have to start reassessing their character or the things you trust them with. Of course, there may be legitimate reason why something can’t be returned to you but if this is a frequent occurrence? Then, yes – questions may need to be asked. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Inspired by Kindness 

I think the slightly sad thing about my aversion to borrowing is that it sometimes makes it a lot harder to give – especially in circumstances where it counts and can actually be lifechanging. For example, tithing in church used to be a constant struggle (things have changed in that department though, thank God.) Or even donating to a homeless person – my heart will be moved to action but my mind will put up a road block by whispering ‘won’t you need that money later, Hannah?’ 

I remember going for a walk with a friend and as we passed an off license, we came across a homeless person sitting opposite the shop. Without hesitation she offered to buy him a drink and listened as he weighed out his options. As we went into the store and hunted for his final choice – orange juice – I was moved by her kindness and the readiness she possessed to give. 

Admittedly, I’m still working on being more giving (so I’m not in much of a position to give advice) but I’ll end with that scene because to this day it still makes me smile. 😊 

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Have you had any bad experiences with borrowing people items or money? Comment below and let’s talk!

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In the moment. In the now.

I miss you, yet I see you every day.

Is this how it feels to be so close to someone

yet so far away?

Disclaimer: I write this (as with all my posts) with no malice. In fact, I may sometimes be guilty of this myself so I’ll keep that in mind throughout.

Is it only me or do people find it so hard to be in the moment nowadays? By that I mean just savouring the present moment and appreciating what you’re doing and who you’re with. I can sometimes be with people and see they’re with me but actually quite distant all at once. Distracted by their phone either pinging with messages or simply not strong enough to resist the momentary urge to scroll through social media whilst you are talking. And that can be quite a frustrating state of affairs; firstly because it set a precedent for the whole evening and secondly, it means they may not have heard something that you felt was really important or took a lot of courage to share. In fact, it can be quite rare I find to be with someone I know and just be within a moment where you’re both talking whilst filled with genuine appreciation and joy at being with that particular person. With no one else. Or anywhere else. But there. I have a friend that will always tell me off for being on my phone and insist I put it away when with her. As a true phone addict would, I used to be annoyed at that but after some reflection and observation of my own social situations in the past few months I’ve seen the logic behind what I thought was once madness on her part.

It may not be intentional but being on your phone indicates you’ve only half-heartedly pushed time aside for that person. That you’re physically present but mentally you’re only half present here and God knows where else. The greatest sign of care and love is when you’re sitting opposite each other or walking side by side and you’re friend puts their phone away and looks you square in the eyes and says ‘talk to me’. That’s the cue that says to me (supported by action) that, I’m here for you, I’m listening and I’m all yours. The exclusivity of time is one of the benefits of a relationship and should definitely be taken more seriously. It may feel more intense without your phone there to buffer the awkward moments if they arise but at the end of your time together- whether long or short- you’ll know and love each other that little bit more. Because you’ll be reminded all over again of why you love that person and keep them in your life.

Memories come, memories go…

I was watching a K-drama recently and the male protagonist Jun-yeong said something interesting. Something along the lines of

‘Memories are scary because you can’t control them.’

The more I pondered on it the more I found it to be true. We create memories but over time they can become like muddy waters that were once clear. We see elements of what makes the original thing but can’t grasp or remember the bigger picture. On a more logical note, even things like dementia, Alzheimers and amnesia take away the human ability to rely on our brains to store our memories like living room cabinet’s store china. Untouched, in one piece and always there for reference. I’ve always thought this is what fuels our addiction to various forms of technology- we love those phones and cameras can capture moments with crystal clear clarity that will remain over time. In this way, they have an added advantage the mind does not.

I was thinking about this [the unreliability of memories] as I read Michelle Obama’s Becoming and the sceptical voice in my head kept asking ‘how on earth does someone remember their childhood with so much clarity?’ Even when I look back to when I was such an age I can’t remember everything- which saddens me slightly- as if my mind’s once-tight grasp has loosened on these precious jewels whilst life turned my attention away.

But I am encouraged by what I do remember. The shine of the sun recently for example, randomly reminded me of the Sunday evening rush to the street outside so we could be first in line when the ice-cream van arrived. (You could always hear it before you saw it.) My siblings and I would always order a flavour called ‘lemon ice’ which captured the two-sided sweet-tangy nature of lemon perfectly. And although we may obsess over the specifics, it’s the feeling of happiness such treasured memories give you which is even more priceless.

Ghosts of Friendships past

Friendship is a funny thing. Am I the only one that looks down the long hallway that is my past and sees the floating shadows of many former friendships? These are not necessarily friendships that suffered an explosive ending. Most of the time you try to keep in touch but days pass and the next thing you know two years have gone and you’ve barely spoken.  I do see these friends every now and then but the conversation is very brief and shallow, almost as if you’re back to acquaintance (or even stranger) level again. After all, people do change- and much quicker than we know sometimes. Although the joyful memories associated with them bring happiness, you almost have to take time to grieve that individual as you realise the intimacy you shared may not ever be experienced again.

But as the old ends, new ones begin and such is the pain and beauty of friendship.

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I hate that we don’t talk

as much as we used to.

Will I ever meet some someone like you

I often wonder.

The spontaneous singing

The endless conversations

the laughing, the moments.

Heart to hearts

All in the past.