It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas..and a time to appreciate family

So it’s nearly Christmas. I’ve managed to avoid it for a long time but on Saturday I broke. I purchased a Christmas present. I actually purchased two.

I love Christmas. It’s always been a time when I look forward to spending time with my loved ones and just relaxing. I’m lucky enough in that that I have never felt stressed in the lead up to Christmas, I spend what I can and I figure I treat those I love around me all year round so I never feel the need to splurge. My husband also doesn’t celebrate Christmas (although he likes the presents!).

This year though is a bit different. It’s the first year that my nan won’t be here.  I know that the first Christmas is always hard after losing somebody, the first any occasion for that matter. It will be tempered by the fact that my cousin is expecting her first baby, my auntie will be over from Switzerland and I will be spending some time in Yorkshire with my family but it still won’t completely distract me from the fact my nan won’t be here for once.

I get nostalgic this time of year remembering Christmases gone past. When my mum was around we used to spend the morning with her mum and dad followed by the afternoon with my dad’s mum and dad. There was lots of travelling involved! After my mum passed away we carried on the tradition for a few years but eventually we spent Christmas at home followed by Boxing Day visiting relatives. It meant my dad was not constantly driving. I never thought about it at the time but my dad must have been so tired driving the whole day, packing up the barrage of toys that we accumulated during the visits. It’s funny the things you realise and appreciate as you get older.

I’ve definitely developed a massive appreciation for my dad. He effectively raised me from the age of 9 until the age of 15. He had a lot of help from my aunties and grandparents but ultimately he was the one who raised me. He made mistakes of course but I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t when they were faced with a complete change in lifestyle. He went from an environment where my mum took care of home life whilst working part time whilst he worked long full time hours to having to juggle hours at work and at home. We had a great childminder called Jean who was brilliant but she was only there for 3 hours a day until my dad came home.

My dad had to talk me through what to do during ‘my monthlies’, talked to me about boyfriends and also had to cope with hormones. My stepmum came along when I was 15 and we became really close. I don’t have any doubt though that my dad could have carried on doing the job, it would have just been harder. So it makes me mad when I see people who look at single parents and automatically think they have come from a broken home or look down on them as if they can’t do a good job. I’m relatively ‘normal’ whatever that means. I have formed good relationships and friendships. Yes, if I look really hard I can see the effect of my mum’s passing. I hate not knowing where my husband is and get anxious if he is not home at a particular time (because my mum never came home and I didn’t know until the police came), I have an aversion to motorbikes (mum killed whilst crossing a road and hit by a motorbike) and I still have anxiety and tearful moments during August (anniversary). I’m also of the view that bad things happen. But that’s life and my life has enough positive moments to make it worthwhile.

So this Christmas, I will have thoughts about those who can’t be here but I’ll also be focused on those who are.

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