Slow Down - a column by Beth Ritchie

By Swindon Link - 17 December 2021

Opinion and Features

Link columnist Beth Ritchie's Christmas wish is that we take a break and take stock

I was at the orthodontist with son one last week and looking at this huge human lying on the dentist’s chair, and I couldn’t help thinking: “What on earth am I doing here? Shouldn’t I be at school or something?”

This kind of realisation, where I forget that I’m actually an adult who has lived to the age of 43 and had two kids, happens to me a lot. Because like many people I’m still 15 in my head.

People older than you will always tell you that time moves too quickly. As a child you roll your eyes, Christmas feels like months away, the school week is too long. But being an adult, you’re so busy doing adult stuff that time does get away with you and you rarely get a moment to sit back and take stock. This is why we’re always banging on about time moving so quickly, much to the consternation of little kids to whom everything feels 'ages away'.

This is also why our grandparents told us to slow down. We need to slow down, smell the roses, take a break, breathe… because otherwise we’ll find we have been too busy living life to actually appreciate it. And what’s the point in that?

If I’m honest, I’m only just coming to terms with the fact that I have children at all, let alone that I have a 15-year-old (what can only be described as man) living in my house, that I made in my body (I try not to think about that bit too much, too weird).

So, given the speed at which life travels, it’s no surprise really that at least 50 percent of my conversations right now include someone saying, “I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas, where does the time go?” at some point.

For many of us, Christmas is a kind of punctuation mark at the end of the year, signalling the end of one year and the beginning of next. A forced break for most of us (key workers not withstanding), with many workplaces and shops closed for the only day of the year. And while I don’t subscribe or promote any kind of religion, I welcome Christmas on the whole, because I worry that without it, some of us might never stop. I think many of us careen towards Christmas at breakneck speed, and then hit the wall round about Christmas Eve and spend those weird few days between Christmas and New Year feeling a bit bewildered that we’re approaching the start of the year again.

This year has been another strange one. It’s not the 'new normal' anymore, it’s just 'normal' and we’re all tired, we’re all fed up. But we need to make the best of it, because as we know, time moves fast and before we know it, it’ll be next Christmas.

My kids have now firmly jumped on the 'time goes too fast' bandwagon. My 12-year-old said to me a few weeks ago that he couldn’t believe that he would be 13 next year. I nodded knowingly and gave him a hug; it was like he had officially entered the world of adulthood.

Even if we can’t slow down, or stop in our normal lives, Christmas just might be a rare opportunity to try and take stock and breathe. If only so we can stare blinking at what our lives have come to and familiarise ourselves with the new versions of the people we have all become. I wish you all a very happy, and slow, Christmas.   

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