I bought a new Christmas Tree this year. It was an extravagance I should probably not have splurged on given we have been hit this year by the Covid-effect of income decreases for months for my hubby and a loss of assessment and mentoring clients for me – as well as some paid opportunities on panels etc – due to everything closing down and people losing their jobs. I can’t complain too much – we are fine – but things have been a little tighter.
However, I am at a point where I just needed more Christmas cheer, not less. Our old Christmas Tree would have been fine for another year, but it was getting a little sad and I had been about to buy a new tree earlier this year when Covid hit. Covid had taken so much from us all this year, including making an already difficult VCE year for my eldest son (who has learning issues) even worse and made me cry often on his and his fellow VCE students’ behalves as one VCE joyful experience after another was taken from them and study, and life in general, became so much harder.
To speak frankly, this year has been shit – both on a personal level and for the country. But my horrible year has levels of shit that made my impulse purchase of a new Christmas Tree a necessity.
For me, it all started when my hubby broke his Achilles in a fall off a ladder in mid-December and had to be operated on a week before Christmas. Our plans for buying a new oven went out the window when all his medical expenses flew in the door. Also, he was out of action (bed-ridden) for the rest of December and into January, requiring me to do everything for him and the boys and around the house. All our plans for a much-needed holiday, my birthday (on Christmas day no-less!) and house improvements were all put off. Christmas and the holidays were subdued and not what we all needed before my eldest started his VCE.
Not to mention, having my hubby home was a crimp in my work patterns, and having him and the kids home over the holidays with us being unable to go anywhere or do anything, was a situation that at the time, I didn’t think I wanted to repeat ever.
Little did I know what was coming.
The bushfires were raging at this time and like all Australians, I was incredibly worried and having to balance my worries with my kids worries about what was going on, climate change and the future. Even though we were safe in the suburbs of Melbourne, the smoke was thick and relentless and made it difficult to go outside and do anything most days. It seemed, at the time, apocalyptic.
Once again, little did I know.
Then one of my very good friends passed away very suddenly in early January. A shocking loss of a dear friend made doubly so by the fact she was overseas to finish off the novel of her heart – a novel nobody will probably ever see which is a horrible tragedy to any writer I know, but even more to those of us who knew her, who knew how important it was to her, and how bloody good it was. More than that though, she is just missed. We met at a writers meeting and hit it off immediately – at similar places in our writing journey and both mums, we had a lot in common and ended up becoming firm friends and starting up our own writing group, all of whom have now been published. This was supposed to be her year – but I guess that just wasn’t to be.
I was asked to do a reading from her published novel at her funeral – with a Welsh speaker doing the bits in Welsh – and sang the tune and lyrics from one of the most poignant moments of her beautiful book, The Tides Between. Singing those words that I’d sung for her many years ago when she was trying to get that scene right, was cathartic for me, but I feel none of us got to process her death properly as the bush fires raged and then Covid reared its pandemic head.
Cue everyone being home, my hubby taking over my writing space because he needed a closed door, me being relegated to the kitchen table with the constant interruptions from everyone as they came and went or needed to chat or me to lift spirits etc. I slowly watched many of my writing goals float out the window.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done things. Despite an increase in headaches and migraines from all the stress, I have managed to write 2 novellas, a short novel, re-edit Climbing Fear, do edits for Blazing Fear, and finish a new romantic suspense novel and get it off to my agent and have now started the 3rd book in the CoalCliff Stud series. I have had 3 books come out this year – Blazing Fear in May, Climbing Fear was released in print in October and Witch Bound (in the Fantasy Realms: Warlords, Witches & Wolves Anthology) in November. I also have plans for another novella, Love Cursed (in A Perfectly Paranormal Valentine) to come out in February with more for later in the year as I step into being a hybrid author, mixing traditionally published works with self-published ones.
All things said and done, it has been pretty remarkable, but I had planned for so much more.
I won’t go on anymore about how horrible and difficult Covid has been to endure, as everyone knows and have their own stories to tell, many of them far worse than mine, but to paraphrase the Queen, it’s been an ‘annus horribilis’.
I needed cheering and what is more cheering than a beautifully decorated Christmas tree?
I look forward to putting up the tree all year and hate the time after Christmas when I have to take it down. But I just couldn’t face the thought of putting up our old tree with its drooping branches and bits that have fallen off – or are in the process of unravelling.
So, the answer seemed clear: buy the tree I’d meant to buy after Christmas last year.
I put it up on the weekend, unable to wait until the 1st of December like I usually do. And while it can’t make up for all the losses and stresses of this year, it certainly makes me smile every time I look at it, so it’s worth its weight in gold.
What have you found to make you happy at the end of 2020?