Friday, 18 December 2015

Winter Warmer

Day 19 (Saturday 19th December 2015)

19 out of 20 graduates change jobs at least once within three years of graduating and
only half work in a field directly related to their area of study, according to 
research undertaken by the
New College of the Humanities. Over a third of the respondents cited financial reasons for moving on,
1 in 10 decided to start their own business and 2 in 5 changed jobs in order to
acquire new skills and hence be more employable in the future.

This post has been submitted by Alastair Cockroft. Alastair is a Learning Resources Manager in the UK's National Health Service (NHS), working for Salford Royal Foundation. Alastair has a genuine interest in emerging technologies and how they can be used to enhance people's experience at work and improve performance, safety and patient care. Alastair is a popular and well liked individual on social media (that is how he and I first met). You can find Alastair on Twitter (his handle is @acockroft). He is a devoted husband, father , guardian of Wilbur and valued friend. Many of us appreciate his music recommendations social media. He lives in a beautiful part of the UK, near Manchester, and occasionally shares photos of some of the wonderful places where he and his family escape to at the weekends. I remain jealous. Alastair describes himself as "not really a blogger", but I greatly enjoyed his piece written for this year's series and am delighted to share it with you.


If I’m honest, I’ve struggled to write this blog. This is the umpteenth time I’ve sat down to write it. For some reason these days I really struggle with Winter and Christmas. I didn’t used too, I have fantastic memories of singing in Christmas choirs, going to church on Christingle (admittedly because we got a satsuma with sweets sticking out of it). 

I see how excited the kids are now when it snows and I remember being that excited too – waxing the sledge in anticipation of a day spent freezing cold, 

then too hot, then wet, but ultimately ending up dry and warm. 

I remember being warned not to warm up my feet on the radiator as it can cause frost bite (we did it anyway and I still have all my toes).

I remember the excitement of waking up on Christmas morning to find a stocking at the end of the bed (one of my dad’s old hiking socks which always contained an apple, satsuma and a bit of loose change amongst other small gifts – he still does them to this day). 

I remember unwrapping Lego or computer games or fishing gear and being immensely grateful. 

I remember grandparents coming over for Christmas dinner and the whole family sitting down together. I remember the smell of the sherry my Grandma and Nanna would drink (just the one of course). 

I remember the chorus of snores as I tried to watch Bond or Star Wars or Indiana Jones. I remember an afternoon ambience that you would only feel on Christmas day – warm, over-fed, sleepy. I remember heading to bed feeling incredibly happy and yet tinged with sadness that it was all over for another year.

1980 Christmas TV guide
But somewhere along the line Christmas for me became less exciting, more about duty and more stressful. The pressure to make others happy, to buy inventive and ecstasy-inducing presents, the dreary commute in the dark, the shops filling their shelves with Christmas crap, the ‘must be a party to end all parties’ office do, the need to cook like a chef, the top ten lists of top ten lists of mince pie reviews, the TV advert competition, the top ten top ten Christmas films top ten lists, Slade, Wizzard, The Pogues, bloody Band-aid…AGAIN!

So what to do? Well this year for the first time in over a decade my direct family will be together on Christmas day. It’ll probably be messy. There’ll probably be an argument here and there, the kids will get over excited, I’ll get stressed. Some part of the meal will go wrong and someone will probably spill something. Someone will be disappointed at the present they receive. Someone will be disappointed at someone else’s reaction to the present they gave them. Someone will probably take offence that someone faked a delighted response to their gift. We’ll get too hot and someone will cry about losing a parlour game. The butler will probably expect to leave work early (ok I may be getting carried away a bit now). I’ll definitely wish I hadn’t offered to be designated driver.

But I do hope that at some point (probably in a few years’ time when we’re all speaking again and we’ve finally paid for the carpet to be replaced) some of us will realise that being with family and friends and enjoying a meal together can light up the middle of winter and see us through to the next spring. 

Christmas Dinner by John S Goodall

That it’s really about relaxing and celebrating that we’ve made it through this far and that from hereon in, the darkness will start to recede and spring will begin it’s gentle soothing and settling of winter. It won’t be long before the snowdrops appear and there’s a change in the air. 

We still might see snow (I hope we do) and get some sledging in but all the time we know that we’re on our way to a warmer and lighter season full of potential and promise and life and love.

And if it all goes wrong? Well I have all the Bond films on DVD these days so next year I’ll just hibernate and sod the lot of you!

Have a good one folks.

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