'I ate a frozen lasagne and helped at a homeless centre'
Social media and content marketer Kris Nixon (29) lives with his girlfriend Lindsay Broadbent (28), a scientist in Belfast. He says:
I was working in the Odeon in Leicester Square in winter 2006. I was a university drop-out and had moved to London for university, studying music management at London Met. But I was juggling a degree in music with going to gigs and drinking — I kind of excused it as practical research.
To cut a long story short — I don’t have a degree but I do have a mild dose of tinnitus.
Anyway, I was living in south London in a house in Lewisham with five friends who were students at university.
They were all from England and visiting their families at Christmas was easier than me visiting my mum — plus it was a complicated family relationship and I preferred to be on my own that Christmas rather than going home and having dramas.
Just before I went to university we had stopped being homeless and had got a place of our own. I’d never had a strong relationship with my mum.
When I went to university there wasn’t a lot of contact kept and all my other relations lived in Northern Ireland or Canada.
I don’t think I have spent a Christmas with my immediate family since I was about 10 — I would have gone to my grandfather or my uncle in Canada — and a family Christmas has always been a fairly foreign concept to me, which is why I was okay to spend it on my own.
I finished work on Christmas Eve at about 4pm and went home and there was no one there — and I did start to feel a little bit lonely. It was more a perspective thing — I am sitting here watching Scrubs on DVD while everyone else across the country is having a family Christmas.
I’m a humanist, but there was a church round the corner and I decided to go to Midnight Mass and sat at the back. I sneezed and about 60 people turned round to look at me. I thought I’d try and absorb some of the seasonal cheer — and it worked.
I went home, got up in the morning and had a completely uneventful day.
I had a frozen lasagne from Iceland for dinner and there was nothing special about the day. Because I had time on my hands and the transport in London wasn’t running on Christmas Day, I thought I’d go to a homeless shelter and I rollerbladed about seven miles from Lewisham to the city centre.
I was serving food and I had a bit of crack with everyone. I was doing a bit of stand-up at the time so I compered a talent show for the day.
Then I went home and watched DVDs and it was completely just like any other day. It was okay — I didn’t mind it.
I had no arguments, no dramas, no fighting, no drunk people, no burnt turkey. I could do what I wanted and that was grand.
You feel obligated that you have to have a good day. But you are off work, you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do. Other than the fact that you don’t wake up and open any presents I was absolutely fine with it.
I would say that Christmas is just another day, nothing more, nothing less. I’d rate it the same as 21st June.
After that I moved back to Northern Ireland and by next Christmas had moved in with my girlfriend and I’ve been with her ever since.
I’m incredibly glad that I do now have a significant other and her family with which to spend Christmas.
Given the choice between doing it alone or doing it with loved ones, it’s no contest.
Her family have completely made me feel part of them — it’s wonderful now, especially looking back at some of the times it hasn’t been so wonderful.