In his latest blog post, author, speaker and autism champion, Andrew Edwards talks about his thoughts surrounding this Christmastime, a difficult year gone and hope for the year to come…
With the festive season approaching it has been the ultimate year of weird, surreal, absurdism mixed in with life-changing alterations that we never thought we would have to make in a first world democracy. It has also being a bit of an ‘annus horribilis’ for most in some ways.
This Christmas, I currently feel very conflicted in celebrating it, with the restrictions on meeting other households set to be lifted in the four British nations. My feelings arise from the fact that others of differing cultures and faiths haven’t been able to mark their festive celebrations due to the Coronavirus restrictions.
In fact, people of Muslim faith were treated with disdain the day before Eid in the summer. Meanwhile, it was the same for those of Sikh, Hindu and Jain faith when the second Coronavirus lockdowns were announced in October and November in Wales and England. I felt at the time that this would never have occurred with Christmas and, quelle surprise, it has worked out that way.
On a personal note, until in recent years, I have always loved Christmas albeit I found it very overwhelming with my autism at times. This stems from the different routines that go hand in hand with Christmas. Also, I have found it emotional for many reasons, especially watching The Snowman on Channel Four every Christmas Eve when the tears would pour from me uncontrollably. This is when all year round, with my autism, I would seldom, if ever, cry even when loved ones were ill or passed on – although, I cry more often in recent years. One interesting stat on The Snowman is that the iconic David Bowie appears at the very beginning of it slightly enigmatically hinting that he was James [the main character].
Due to my personal life circumstances, I have also slightly found Christmas to be less enjoyable in recent years due to now being in my mid-thirties with currently neither a girlfriend, child of my own, or any close relatives who are children. Also, apart from my nephew, all my family either live with me or next door to me.
In the past, until Christmas 2016, I used to buy all my mates up to three or maybe four presents each, whilst also buying for those with young children. I used to buy Christmas presents all year round with most of them wrapped up by mid-autumn. I found this to be a real pressure.
Since then, although it makes me happy all year round, I spend a lot more on myself. On coaching fees for my Strength & Conditioning Sessions at NumberOneHSP, paying for driving lessons and, in a routine year, on attending about 12-20 gigs a year, cricket test matches at Old Trafford and Lord’s, along with vinyl and CDs. Yes, it is far less pressure than having to remember buying for so many others and I do prefer it this way, but with my current personal life circumstances it does make Christmas distinctly less enjoyable.
Hopefully, in the relatively near to medium future, I will be in a long-term relationship which would give Christmas a different resonance. However, I don’t look too far into the future anymore, even with my autism. This pandemic has taught me to look completely within the present, as life can be so unpredictable.
I would like to say that, despite a worldwide pandemic, I have found 2020 in a peculiar way to be a personally rewarding year for me, both physically and emotionally. Like everyone else, I have made many adaptations I thought I would never have to. I have done this adeptly, whilst thinking such changes would have been impossible, before now. I have also gone longer without a meltdown than I have ever done in my life, despite this craziest of years.
Finally, despite my conflicting feelings, I wish all those celebrating Christmas a happy one, whilst having an infinitely more merry and prosperous 2021 than 2020 has been.
By Andrew Edwards.
Find out more about Andrew and read more of his writing by visiting his website: www.andrewedwardsautism.co.uk.