There isn’t an email going around the office. There isn’t talk about who’s wearing what while dodging the boss.
There isn’t last years gossip floating above the crowded canteen making everyone anticipate this years gossip.
I miss it.
I miss the work Christmas party.
I miss the build up to it, the let down of it and the remorse of it all!
I even miss the hangover and the irrational fear that overcomes you when get in the next day.
There’s a social isolation that comes with being a full time carer, one that I’ve gotten used to over the years but Christmas seems to bring it to the forefront.
The isolation is more obvious. There is no Christmas parties for those of us who are carers. It would be a lonely old party if there were, I suppose.
What do people who work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year do at Christmas?
Well, most do the same thing they do all year round.
Others are lucky and get a break, get a bit of respite and get to go to their partners Christmas party or plan a night out, if they have the energy.
I am in the lucky bracket. I get respite in the build up to Christmas. I don’t get respite over the Christmas holidays but I do get to go out and enjoy some Christmas festivities. I get a break from my caring role.
I don’t have a workplace anymore nor do I have that many friends, to be honest.
I gatecrashed my husbands Christmas party, gatecrashed is not really the right word,I was invited but it’s not the same when you don’t work there (hence the feeling of being a gatecrasher) I did enjoy it and found my husbands workmates to be the friendliest bunch of people I’ve met in a long time.
Gathering friends to have a drink over the Christmas is a tricky thing,as they are all busy with their own Christmas duties and parties to attend.
I have limited free time, even with respite there’s never enough time. Sounds familiar to everyone,eh?
I often sit and think of the carers who aren’t as lucky as I am.
I think of the million reasons I don’t want to go out for a catch up or a coffee especially over Christmas.
Then I think of those carers.
The ones who don’t get asked anymore, the ones who simply can’t, the ones who don’t get respite and the ones who feel that Christmas is a spectators season.
I feel guilty sometimes that I have respite. I see so many carers without any and my heart breaks for them. It took us five years to get respite so I do know how hard it is to get; I also know how those of us who get respite feel ‘lucky’ to have it.
Fundamentally; every single carer on this island should have access to respite.
Everyone needs time off, a break, a rest...
For those of you who had or have a friend who is a carer, that friend you haven’t seen in months, even years…or a family member who can never attend a family gathering, I implore you to reach out this Christmas.
I know it takes two to communicate.
I know that they’ve shown no (apparent) interest and I know the millions of reasons why you can’t or why you’d find it hard but take it from this carer, who is very lucky to still have friends and family members that call, it matters.
That carer misses you.
They’d like to see you.
They wish they could see you but as hectic as your own life is (everyone’s is) they really, really don’t have the time to arrange and ultimately rearrange meetups.
They can’t nip in the car and spin out to you, not without organising and planning ...it’s a different world, it’s a much more difficult world to live in.
It’s a world which most of you will never have to be part of yet, anyone can join.
No one is excluded, no one gets a ‘pass’- anyone can become a carer, even you.
No one is asked if they’d like to be a carer, people become carers due to love, nothing else. They are motivated by love, strengthened by love, paid with love and do it all over again and again because of love.
That carer who doesn’t get a break, who doesn’t show up to anything -they can’t, they simply can't.
I know that's hard to understand, especially when you’ve been inviting them and including them.
I think of these carers over the year but I admit, at Christmas I think of them more often.
Carers who are lucky to get the respite,(however little or however much,it’s all relative) still get lonely over Christmas, they still feel left out. I still feel lonely and left out- imagine how those with no respite feel?
So,my little wish this Christmas is for those of you who have a carer in your circle or family to call out, send a quick message or make a quick phone call and tell them you are coming to see them.
Trust me, they are just as nervous of you calling as you are of making that reconnection, but neither of you will regret it.
And to my not so many friends, thank you for including me for all these years, thank you for calling out to me and thank you for planning events around respite, I am very lucky x