#ChristmasEveryDay by Milly Johnson
In I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, six people are locked down in an inn over the Christmas period. They can’t travel anywhere because the snow is too thick, so they have to make the best of it. They could stare at the fire and huff a lot or they could make the time pass much more enjoyably – and that’s what they decide to do.
Had I written this book at any other time… well, I wouldn’t have written it. I finished my first edit just before lockdown which was far too late in the day to abandon it. Six people in lockdown? Too close to home. And then Boris introduced the ‘rule of six’. Oh boy – had there been seven people in my story, that could have ruined my career. Maybe I should abandon my writing, buy myself a tent and a crystal ball and do readings on Blackpool front.
As things in my book go, the inn is only open at certain times as it’s so remote, but it is full of bookings for Christmas dinner so there’s a lot of food in the pantry – and it’s all Christmas fodder: more turkey, pigs in blankets and home made mince pies than you can shake a stick at. And these six strangers take full advantage of their surroundings – the snow, the fireside, the radio, the mulling spices… to make one of the most memorable Christmases they’ll ever have.
In the book one of my characters is half-Norwegian and she knows that a country that experiences so much darkness and snow would be a very miserable one if all their people did was moan about their lot. The Norwegians, she tells them, go out dressed for the cold and skate, ski and then come home ruddy-faced and collapse in front of a fire with hot chocolate. They have a healthy mindset to their circumstances and that’s what we must do this year. Okay – out go the big parties, the crowds crossing hands at New Year to sing Auld Lang Syne but it doesn’t have to be all bad. In forty years our grandchildren will be rolling their eyes at us the way we used to roll our eyes at our grandparents who told us how they used to ‘make do and mend’ during the war, or exist on powdered egg. Our tales will be full of how we make our homes extra cosy, stuck more decorations on the walls, clustered around the TV to watch a film together, maybe made our own crackers with joke presents in them like masks with rude patterns on them and hand cream and travel-sized bottles of hand sanitiser and were grateful that we had enough bog roll to see us through to mid-Jan.
One of the major themes of my book is that the past has gone, the future is shifting sand – but the here and now is where it’s at, folks. If we are constantly looking at the horizon, we will miss the joys of the flowers at our feet. It’s okay to look forward to summer holidays and hugging people and making plans for, hopefully, a wild people-filled 2021, but for now we have a smaller, quieter Christmas heading our way that we can spend with a tiny knot of people. But we are humans with a need to connect so maybe this year will see a resurgence in the art of Christmas card writing. There is something comforting about letters that emails can’t give us (and we do need these small considerations and comforts). And, on that note, maybe this year we will appreciate more those who work around us, provide a service but are almost invisible – the postmen – and the binmen… Maybe we can spread some Christmas cheer in making them feel as valuable as they are. This Christmas will be different, but we can still make it special. Buy yourself something you’d want from Santa in case he forgets to bring it himself, get the board games out (I played Buckaroo last year, the first time since I was a kid, and little me was still inside, ready to shriek!) If we have to hunker down then let us do it as the Norwegians would and embrace it. And if it snows, make a snowman, let the inner child loose, make memories.
Hopefully in the future we will look back at this year with a ‘Well, I’m glad that one’s over and we survived it, but we didn’t half make the best of it!’ Just like people did after the war…
Love Milly xx
#ChristmasEveryDay is out now in eBook and hardback.