I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year – mine wasn’t great, it wasn’t perfect but it was ok which is more than I could have dreamt of.
Firstly let me say I LOVE Christmas and I am the biggest child I know – I love lights, decorations, presents (giving and receiving), food, Santa, cheesy movies and the general goodwill at this festive time.
However, when life and circumstances change, your perspective and views of all these things changes. I remember following when I lost my mother and the first Mothers day – I think I had to leave a supermarket as I hit the seasonal aisle with “mother” plastered over everything! All the adverts, all the magazines crammed with pictures and articles on the perfect Christmas should be banned! Perfect food, perfect presents how to be a perfect host etc etc (pass me the bucket).
As all families we had our traditions – the first Saturday of December we would go to the Tree barn and we each took it in turn to choose the tree but, every year we could never remember who chose the year before and I always had the casting vote anyway! Every year the boys were also allowed to choose 3 new decorations each for the tree. Then we’d decorate it, listening to Christmas Carols and it was always a very happy time. The boys also had their own tree, which they could do what they wanted with! It had Disney ornaments that they had collected over the years and bits and bobs they had made at school. Now I have that small artificial tree in my little flat and I decorated it on my own, I couldn’t even find the Christmas CDs we used to listen to.
Cards!!! Like 99% of families everywhere I buy the cards, I write the cards and I buy the stamps and post the cards! So the boys looked at me in that weird way whenever I was back at “our” house and I would pick up all the cards and bring them home. AH did have some cards addressed to him and the children but otherwise I figured the rest were mine especially as I had the tedious and excruciating task of writing a note in each and every card…I am sorry to pass on the sad news that…. and I have separated etc etc.
I was with the children during the day on Christmas Eve and we did some last minute shopping and visited friends for drinks. Following that I spent the night at a girlfriend’s house as I couldn’t bear the thought of waking alone and we drank champagne together and wished each other a good day.
Back at “our” house, on Christmas morning, we were a family again as the children opened their gifts (and yes we had duplicated a couple of small things). I gave them a small amount of money and had bought all their stocking presents whilst AH gave them a big gift each. The children had bought stockings gifts for both of us and AH and I exchanged gifts with each other.
We had lunch at AH parents house with his sister and all their family which I was really dreading it but it was fine and everyone was happy, kind and jolly and I was made very welcome. I returned to my girlfriend for the evening where we shared a bottle of wine and watched a DVD. Then I took my children to my brother’s house where we played party games and were generally silly – it was weird that AH wasn’t there and even weirder for me knowing he was with his new girlfriend but overall I did have a good day.
I think the whole experience has opened my eyes and now I will never take anything for granted. Not everyone has a perfect life and it’s so hard that the people who bombard us with marketing also make us feel so inadequate. Before, I didn’t need to make a Christmas cake as my mother-in-law always did, but I had girlfriends who slaved over their masterpieces and took classes to make the best wreaths and went walking to gather holly and make garlands and made their own cards. It all felt like a permanent battle of oneupmanship. This Christmas I just wanted to get through without dissolving into a flood of tears.
One of my favourite Christmas songs of all time used to be Greg Lake’s I believe in Father Christmas, until this year when I suddenly heard the last line, “the Christmas we get we deserve”! Really? Did I deserve such pain and sadness, not being with my children, it was heart wrenching at times.
One time in the car I heard Andy Williams belting out “it’s the most Wonderful time of the year!!!” that got switched off pronto I can say! Really? Most wonderful? More like most difficult as everyone has such high expectations, no wonder suicides are high at Christmas.
No matter what your own circumstances are next Christmas, and who knows what is in store for anyone, please spare a thought for others who are alone, sad, in trouble and have no hope of a perfect Christmas….as you serve that perfect home made egg nog!!!
Happy New Year – let’s hope it’s a good one for all!