Christmas does funny things to time. It seems to slow it down and speed it up in equal measures. Days are drawn out and then gone in a flash. Afterwards, the world feels a little like it has been pricked with a pin. It takes a while for Thursday to become Thursday again.
This year, I spent Christmas beside a grey winter sea that was as beautiful as a blue summer’s one. If you looked out of the window of our apartment, you could see the waves crashing into the pier, during the day, and, at night, nothing. It is rare to stare out into nothing. On Christmas morning, we walked out along the beach. The water made the sand firm and spongey. When you pushed down, it glistened as the water emerged, temporarily. The sea was strangely quiet in comparison to the wind.
In the church watching over Whitby, there was an old iron stove and tens of Christmas trees, each representing the organisation which donated it. I have not seen a Christmas tree adorned in lobsters before. Behind it, the Abbey was dramatic and austere. I wonder why that feels like the word to describe it. There was a clifftop walk, just beyond it, which we followed until the feeling that the sea directly below was waiting to swallow us up became too intense to me. Some places don’t feel like they are from this time.
On Christmas day, we forgot the outside. We ate smoked salmon, for breakfast, and turkey with all the trimmings when the Queen had finished her speech. I had been attempting to beat last year’s Christmas dinner record in the run up to Christmas but I am beginning to think that Turkey tastes better when you have forgotten how tasty it actually is. And when you’re enjoying it with friends. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the day.
I am not yet accustomed to being back in London. Outside, the traffic roars past and I can already feel my body switching back into fast forward. It feels like the holiday is shrinking but I do not think the urge to clutch onto it is helpful. I have enjoyed, I guess, the unusual opportunity to properly unwind. There are few occasions when I’m just enjoying the moment rather than overlooking it to see what’s coming ahead.