Every Christmas Day I publish a little blog specifically about Christmas and subjects connected with it (in my mind, at least). Today’s is about a Twitter thread which has, over the last few years, become a perennial joy: #DuvetknowitsChristmas. This is curated each Christmas Eve on Twitter by Rhodri Marsden (@rhodri), and the premise is beautifully simple: people share pictures of their Christmas sleeping arrangements, the crapper the better*.
It’s an absolute joy as families all over the country gather, often with spouses and children, in houses which are far, far too small. There are the perennial favourites: couples who have been married for years in twin beds, adults in childhood rooms in single beds under Jasmine and Batman duvet covers, blow-up beds in studies and box rooms. There are the frequent appearances of spooky dolls, puppets, masks, mannequins and random soft toys. And there are sleeping arrangements which are frankly weird: beds in unheated conservatories, in the attic, in camper vans on the driveway, under the piano…. Take a look, and be amazed and uplifted.
Uplifted? Yep, indeedy, uplifted. And, of course, highly amused – pretty much every submission achieves a wry humour whether the subject is contemplating a bed in a hat showroom, on a leaky airbed next to a desk, shared with a toddler who doesn’t like the travel cot, in the living room where Nan is watching the late movie or in the bottom bunk underneath a five year old nephew. But it’s the pictures which are the real delight, for here is the real world. Not the carefully arranged Insta-ready perfection that most people generally post as a window on their lives, but the backroom, shabby, IRL storage space of the hopes and dreams of ordinary people everywhere.
Here is the reassurance that in our own strange quirky weird little way we are just like everyone else. Everyone else has decorating projects which have stalled for years, hobbies the only evidence of which is the dusty equipment at the back of the boxroom, appalling objects we can’t throw out for sentimental reasons, ancient computers which haven’t been turned on since 2015, mountains of cack stacked up in corners because it’s easier to do that than to make the mental effort of deciding what to do with it (plastic bag full of washed Gourmet cat food trays, anyone)? It’s massively comforting.
And it’s also massively touching. Here is the real Christmas story of love and togetherness writ large by all the people who travel hundreds of miles by planes, trains and automobiles to sleep in kitchens on sofa cushions because they want to be with the people who are occupying every last corner of the house in question. And here too are the sweet and touching and funny gestures made by hosts who have run out of pillows never mind beds, but still want to make their loved ones welcome even if they are sleeping in a cupboard – the clean towels on top of the broken camp bed, the bars of Aero on the appalling seventies pillow cases, the Christmas stocking slung over a stepladder, the fairy lights around the uncurtained window. It’s a triumph of pragmatism, love and humour.
So I’m writing about it here because that’s what Christmas is all about. Being with the people you love and care about, however inconvenient. And that doesn’t just mean at Christmas, because love is for life, not just for Christmas. Maybe your family is too far away in space or time for you to be physically with them. Maybe your family is somewhere else, or you have a family scattered around the country or the globe, perhaps because they are a family you have chosen yourself rather than one you were born into. Perhaps you have yet to create your own family. No matter. Christmas is about love, and the message that love is for everyone, and that it is absolutely fine not to be perfect, because there is a place for everyone.
Wherever you are spending Christmas, however you are spending it, and whoever you are spending it with, I wish you a very happy and loving time, today and every day.
*Rhodri Marsden has asked for everyone who has enjoyed his Twitter feed this year to give a donation to Shelter.