Sometimes Christmas Day can be a bit overwhelming for me. We spend it with Richard’s family, and their families, in Margate. There’s a lot of them. Christmas Dinner, cooked by his amazingly unflappable, niece was for 15 people this year. I’m used to being in an environment where there are just me, Richard and the dog. Christmas Day is also one of those days, which has ritual and routine, and that makes the absence of people more noticeable. This year was the 8th Christmas without my Dad’s company. And I still miss him and my Mum throughout the day. It changes form every year, but it can still smart a bit. I’m grateful to have memories with them and to be included in new memories, but it isn’t always the easiest of days.

On Boxing Day last year, I learned of #joinin. A day too late to join in. But I read some tweets, got the idea, and made a note to get involved this year.

Sarah Millican came up with the idea quite several years ago. This year she introduced it as follows:

introduction to #joinin

Throughout Christmas Day people post tweets and, if they wish to, add the hashtag #joinin. Others will read and respond. This year I mainly read and responded - “liking” (tho acknowledging would be a better word for some of them) or replying if I had anything to add.

It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of. I spent somewhere between half an hour and an hour across the day interacting with strangers. I found it uplifting. I also found it fitted in nicely with the common humanity element of self-compassion. No matter what we’re feeling, whether it’s loneliness, sadness or overwhelmed, we’re not alone. And this was a great way of seeing people opening up, being vulnerable, and supporting each other. A slice of humanity at it’s best.

The other Christmas hashtag I stumbled across was #duvetknowitschristmas. A hashtag dedicated to the odd sleeping arrangements people find themselves taking over Christmas visits. Created by @rhodri who, in 2011, posted a picture of his own Christmas sleeping arrangements and got several replies. Here’s a video of some of them. These are mostly amusing, and some did make me laugh out loud. But, as with #joinin, there’s an element of common humanity going on here. The knowledge that no matter how strange the sleeping arrangements you’re not alone.

Spending time reading, and responding, to people’s tweets in both of these hashtags was really helpful for me. I think it’s going to become part of my Christmas Day rituals.