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Ode to you all

December 01 2022
A colourful landscape featuring some houses, trees and a contented moon © Chris Bird A colourful landscape featuring some houses, trees and a contented moon © Chris Bird

The winter months are often difficult and challenging, especially when family life is complicated. A reminder of your strength and resolve, by Greta Gillett

This will be my first Christmas in my new home. The first time I have had my own flat that is in my name and not temporary and not shared and not with rent so high each month it scares me.

I will celebrate on Christmas Eve with my daughters who live with my parents. For the day we are a family and then they will go back to their home, and I will not completely be mother/mum but return to woman/lady/Greta.

I will light candles for my other two children who are 300 miles away who are alive and surviving, but whose father says we cannot see each other and they cannot see their sisters.

On Christmas day I plan to walk close to the trees, to listen to them, to ask them to reach out and touch the sky where the moon lives and to send sweet words of love to my children.

I will tell myself I am here, still standing. Alive, despite it all. I have faced death clean in the eye, and insanity has hovered over me too many times, and yet I'm here.

Survivor they say now instead of victim. I wish all of you a peaceful Christmas, one where you too can acknowledge yourself and say how damn amazing you are.

How each and every one of us who has lived through poverty, homelessness and war in our own homes, whether as children or adults or both, deserve statues to be erected of our beautiful selves in each and every city.

I'm writing here an ode to you all. You made it another year despite a hopeless, often callous government, despite the police and ignorant housing officers, despite sanctions and fucking noodles from the food bank.

Look up at the moon, for she is smiling at you. Look across to the trees, for they are listening to you. You did it. You are the living embodiment of not giving two fucks.

Many people will complain about the cost of living crisis forcing them to hang their washing instead of using the tumble dryer. They might not get their three holidays this year, spare a thought. But those of us who are or have been homeless and have spent many years in poverty, crisis, chaos and indesperate need of food or heating; those of us who rob Paul to pay Peter each month with the bills and doing cash-in-hand work to top-up meagre benefits: we met the cost of living crisis with an “oh yeah, I’ve budgeted all of my life! I know a million ways to spread ten quid till Friday and how to cook for my family with three quid.”

We are and will continue to be amazing. We will decorate our bedrooms with tinsel from Poundland and cards from family, we will eat chocolate and wrap presents for our children, we will make all the sacrifices we can so that we can make everything as special and exciting as possible for ourselves. And exhale.

Till next year.

Alone this winter?

  • Check out Page 18 for information on Crisis at Christmas centres operating during December 2022
  • Visit the List of services in the centre pages of the magazine for a directory of services near you
  • You can call the Samaritans on 116 123 for free at any time. The number works across the UK. Volunteers will be on the line to talk through any concerns, troubles or worries you may have.

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