In Stranger Things, the Netflix hit series, everything appears normal, kids ride their bikes, attend high school and play board games with their friends. But, there is a tear in the fabric of this world and horror pours from it. The tear can’t be seen by everyone. To try to locate it, the mother uses Christmas, fairy lights. They blink messages from the other side.
In our real world, at Christmas time, everything seems normal, people are happy, eating and drinking, partying and celebrating. We string up the fairy lights – they blink messages too – to those who are on the other side of the seasonal jollity – the homeless, jobless, sick, depressed or alone.
For anyone coping with illness, loss or grief at Christmas – this twinkliest, happiest, cosiest time of year, it’s like falling through the tear in Stranger Things and being plunged suddenly into the Upside Down, the parallel universe, a hellish place, where monsters lurk, the atmosphere is dark, the air is viscous and there is a thick layer of gloopy slime to fight through before you can return. Some do not return, the Upside Down consumes them.
This time of year, when it’s freezing cold, money is tight, and schedules are packed, every emotion is highlighted, if you are lonely, you feel it twice as much, if you are single, you feel like you will be so forever, if you are childless, you feel like the world is populated only by children.
Whether your tear in the fabric is a door to an A&E department or a hospital ward, a funeral or a nursing home, or coming to terms with a diagnosis, this is the starkest, hardest time of year to do so. The jingles roaring in your ears, the happy families frolicking in front of your eyes on tv makes your world feel exactly as they call it in Stanger Things – Upside Down.