In a bid to start a new blog tradition, I thought I’d commit myself to twelve days of Christmas posts, starting today into early January. I’ve made up a dozen prompts, inspired by things I’ve seen dotted about the internet or that I’ve been thinking about.

Welcome to day one, the Christmas newsletter – written in the style of the mad maiden aunt (nothing wrong with that, sounds delicious actually). Just a shame I can’t use the comic sans font*.

Here goes.

Welcome to the new annual blog family newsletter!

Unpretty Thoughts Journal’s round-up of the trash fire that was 2020, although – it wasn’t all bad and I will tell you why!

The good

Mittens the cat –

Although I have never met another cat like him – cautious, haughty, beautiful – Mittens has brought nothing but light into our lives, especially during lock-down. While he hasn’t warmed to me 100% yet – but loves his dad – we’ve got into our own groove. Snacks and a little stroke in the morning, quick bop around the garden then back in for a day of naps. He likes naps too.

I’ve never doubted the power of pets for keeping you sane and in positive mental health. There’s so much to be said for the companionship and – usually – the love you get back. I don’t think Mittens will ever be the lap cat I wanted but he gives me so much more and I would die for him. Literally, I would take a bullet for that ungrateful little shit.

The house –

We moved into our first house during a pandemic and that’s pretty cool. Thanks to my amazing mother we were able to finally fulfill a pipe dream and it has been one of the best things we’ve ever done. It hasn’t been without its stresses – redundancy, you bastard – but it’s given us a new focus and we’ll work through it because we’d do anything to keep our home. It’s a small but perfectly formed detached 2 bed in suburbia – and I count my blessings ever day.

I know we’re incredibly lucky to have what we have – and I will never forget that.

Connection –

Weirdly, I feel more connected to some people than ever before, despite not seeing them in the flesh as much. The lock-down brought with it new and innovative ways of staying in touch – and reminded us of the beauty of the old school. After work in the middle of it all, the best thing for me was going out to sit on the communal doorstep at our old place to have a socially distanced chat with our neighbour – and then calling my mum. Her wisdom kept me calm – and I feel closer now to her than ever.

Community is something I really love the idea of but it can be hard sometimes, when you rent and are in and out of areas on the regs. But I feel like it solidified a little just before we left central Brighton. I only hope this is something we can recapture in our new ‘hood. Meanwhile, we shall WhatsApp, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and voice note our loved ones until our fingers and our faces fall off.

Maximum cosiness –

I miss the social aspect of so many things but sometimes it’s kind of nice to be legally required to stay indoors in my pants.

Creative communication –

Writing letters and sending cards has brought me a lot of joy. I love the whole ritual of writing, addressing and sending something that might not arrive for a week. It feels really satisfying to send out your love in such a classic way – and you can never beat the thrill of receiving real mail through the door.

Quality, not quantity –

Mean as this might sound, there are people I’ve seen in the office daily that I haven’t given a second thought to. I miss the hubbub of being around them, sure but I don’t miss them. Instead the friends I really know and love have come more clearly into focus and I love that. The circle has gotten smaller, but it’s stronger than ever – and I would not have got through this without them.

Trump out of office –

It’s really nice sometimes just to see that evil doesn’t always win. I hope he falls down a crack and we never see him again – though that’s not really fair on the cockroaches.

And finally, something cryptic to look forward to in the Spring –

If you think me speaking this mysteriously is annoying, you AUNT wrong. More to follow in the Spring…

The bad

Not to get bogged down in this too much. We all know what’s sucked serious balls about this year.

Mental health battering –

When I think about the mental health consequences of My Corona and the country’s response to the pandemic, it really concerns me. Long term, I think many of us are going have some work to do to heal from this year – personally, I will have to teach myself to leave the house and be around groups of people again.

I just hope as a society we have learnt a little more about having these conversations – and know to keep an eye out for each other. I think if we have then this could also go into The Good category – learning from unprecedented challenges can only be a good thing. Next year I would really like to explore the mental health industry in terms of a job, that would be really something, though I still have A LOT to learn.

The government –

Fuck the Tories, seriously. Not my prime minister… etc, etc. While I know a few countries have nailed this pandemic malarkey, most of the world has had its challenges. Obviously Trump has been a law unto himself but Boris and pals haven’t exactly responded well. Messaging has been wishy washy – and confusing at best – and as always, the people who have suffered the most are minority groups and the poor.

Fuck the Tories.

The ugly

My bank account –

All those people boasting about all the money they’ve saved… yeah not me. I’ve spent the money I would have saved on travel, extravagant lunches and after-work drinks on toot and dresses I haven’t worn yet.

Me –

I look like the troll that lives under a bridge – and that’s okay. I’ve got a good personality and it’s nothing half a kilo of MAC can’t fix. Joking aside (was I?), I think this year has taught me there are more important things than looking banging in photos… not much, but a few.

Here’s to a better 2021. While I don’t expect all our global issues to miraculously dissipate at the strike of midnight on the 31st, it would be nice to look toward the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m keeping my eye on that prize with hope in my heart.

Merry Christmas and a happy new to you all – and thanks for helping me through this year!

*Ever since I read that Comic Sans is helpful for Dyslexic people, I’ve had a newfound respect.