When Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret in season 3 finale of The Crown turns in bed from her young fling, there is a moment when the camera pans on her face that rather sharply got caught in my chest.

I’m not sure whether the 2 glasses of rosé I was down that night or my 2nd day periods had something to add to the moment too but I had to pause my Netflix and take big gulps of air in before sobbing into the couch cushions (white cushions *adds to laundry list*). In that moment Helena manages to capture an entire life lived boiling down to nothing.

As the end of the year looms just around the corner, the merriness of the festive season has drifted in. We’re putting up Christmas bells on our front doors. We’re shopping for presents on Tuesday nights on the extended hours. We’re placing orders and stocking our pantries. We’re going to company parties to celebrate our successes this year. We’re meeting friends for one last drink of 2019. We’re walking around with a bounce in our footsteps; an energy that only the month of December can bring. A final push to wrap all things before we head home to our families or go on holidays to wind down for the year.

Amongst all this merriness, there’s a certain emptiness that catches up with some of us. And I don’t mean watching Love Actually again by yourself on christmas eve kind of emptiness. I mean the kind when Princess Margaret must have realised the sheer uselessness of it all.

Sometimes the hustle of life is actually a rather comforting distractor. It’s only when things slow down like the end of the year is when you are forced to face just how much of the year you had spent focused on things that were just insignificant; how stressed and tired you made yourself over things that didn’t even add anything to you. And how you failed to go after the real important things in life because you thought you had time. Because you thought you’ll get to it, just after you were done with something else (like your quarterly financial report which no one actually reads end to end).

Today’s Sunday column is for all those of us who are feeling a little empty amidst the merriness of this year’s festive season. The end of the year can sometimes overwhelmingly feel like you’ve run out of time – a bit like unable to finish your exam paper really. A feeling in the pit of stomach which you can’t really put your finger on even while you’re enjoying yourself in the festivities. A sense of disappointment in yourself.

Be kind. To you.

The thing about end-of-years is, is that there’s another brand new year waiting on the other side of it and it will bring you another 365 days to finish whatever it is you may have forgotten this year – if you choose not to forget.

And perhaps there’s a reason why we still put up christmas decorations and fairy lights even as the old cynical adults we are. Because the shinny tinsel and twinkling lights promise us another year. Hope for another 365 days.

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