2017 was a year of firsts for me. A year of changes. If I’d been asked at the end of 2016 what the year ahead would’ve been, I would have said it would have been better. Better than a tough end to the year financially speaking. Better in terms of available time, as children grew and became ever more self-sufficient. And better in terms of marriage, as more time and more money would lead to more opportunities to make each other happy.
Well, as John Lennon once sang, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Instead, I’ve discovered that I’m stronger than I thought and can, in fact, live a life without her in it. I’ve discovered the wonderful, crazy world of dating. And I’ve discovered the fun that meeting new people can bring.
That being said, I’m not particularly looking forward to Christmas this year. It’s my first one as a single dad. My first year alone, without someone to help me plan and prepare and deal with my children. I will have them, at least for the morning, but then I’ll lose them for the afternoon and the next few days and be alone, with no-one to enjoy the rest of the time with. I’ll see family, perhaps some friends, but none of them will be there with me.
However, I’m trying not to look at all the things I won’t have. Okay, I won’t have a wife who loves me this year, and children around me for the whole time, nor will I have the knowledge that I’ve got romantic love and good times ahead of me for the following twelve months.
But I will have a lot of different things. I will have Christmas morning, seeing my kids opening their presents. I will have family around who care about me and will look out for me. And I will have the aim of having a lot of fun over the coming year while I look for someone to start a relationship with.
I’ve got skills to learn. I’ve got places to visit. I’ve got half my year without kids. That’s 183 days or so where I can do – literally – whatever I want to do. Okay, on many of those days I’ll be working, but on the rest I’ll be able to decide what to do and where to go, and hopefully who to do it with.
So, this year, I’ll be buying my own Christmas presents and wrapping them up with little bows on while I watch Hans Gruber fall off the Nakatomi Tower in Die Hard. I’ll be cooking a slightly smaller turkey, and not needing to worry about whether I chose the right gifts or not. I’ll be seeing my kids smiling and happy, and will look forward to the chance that, this time next year, I may have met someone new. Someone who is out there, right now, at this second, wondering when are they going to meet someone themselves.
We are going to meet. We are going to talk. We are going to kiss. We are going to spend time together. We are going to discover everything about each other. We are going to fall in love. And we are going to spend our future Christmases together, buying gifts and wrapping them up together whilst Hans Gruber once again plunges to his doom.
This Christmas my best gift to myself will be dreams of the future. And, for that one at least, I don’t need to keep the receipt.