Christmas Cards

Just a short one, probably a depressing one too, sorry for that.

It all started with the Christmas cards arriving.

My first card this year, ironically came from my dad’s wife, it hit hard. 

Suddenly it’s arrival made me realise that is it for the ‘daughter’ cards. Those beautiful, heartfelt, well chosen, well thought out cards that only a parent buys, in fact my mum would buy two (or three some year so). In its place comes a card not in the hand that I see my cards penned. A card from a multi-pack. A card that probably found her facing her own thoughts of Dad on this first Christmas without him. A card that I’m sure she struggled to write and to me was bordering on devoid of all emotion. I’m not blaming her for this.

I hate the fact Cancer has taken both my parents from me, I hate the fact that Christmas is hugely lacking with both of them gone. I haven’t spent a Christmas with my father for quite some years but I always spoke to him on the day and enjoyed buying him gifts (more so after Noah’s arrival, being able to share our love of photography with a beautiful [in my mind] image of my boy). This year his wife requested that presents wouldn’t be sent either way, a request that I’m sure will stand from here on in. I find myself battling with this. I want to send her something because she has been part of our lives for 26 years, she was my dad’s wife, she is family, but I also feel I should respect her wishes. I find myself browsing my Dad’s Amazon wish list and feeling robbed, whilst doing this I found my Mum’s, untouched since 2007 and feel absolutely devastated.

Whilst trying to buy a card for D from Noah I’ve stared at the Mum and Dad cards on the shelves in the card shops and had to hold back the sobs knowing that I’m looking at something that I will never buy for my own parents and that hurts. Hurts beyond belief. I remember now thinking it such a chore finding the ‘right’ card, now I’d find it so easy. I’d buy the fucking lot if it meant that they would read them and realise how much I loved them, how much I respected them, how much I thought of them, how much I miss them.

I’m sat here at home alone listening to the gentle hum of the baby monitor whilst D is on his works do, quietly dreading Christmas this year but also aware that Noah is starting to get excited about it. I want, more than anything, for Noah to be totally unaware of my hang ups and feel the pressure of trying to make it extra special as a way of making up for my feelings of lack of enthusiasm. 

I find myself struggling once more and hate it. I know I have more grief coming, more anniversaries, family events, milestones, all without my parents there.

So as I go through the motions of preparing for a Christmas without the love and thought of a parent I think more deeply of those in a similar situation. I’m not ‘alone’ yet I know (especially in my previous line of work) there are so many out there that are and realise how much that must hurt at this time of year. I just hope they have atleast received one card with a heartfelt thought behind the words written in it.

Christmas(es)

I know that, technically, this is your second Christmas but due to you being so tiny last year I felt like this year was your first and have looked forward to making it so special for us all. Unfortunately this didn’t go to plan due to illnesses but we tried to make the most of it.

We both went to Brooks Garden Centre and chose a small tree to sit on a table. We chose against a big tree, which is normal, due to concerns you may pull it over! You loved the decorations and lights when they were finally put up, with your grandma taking pride of place, forever smiling down on us.

The look of awe on your face when we turned on the lights each morning was magical.

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On Christmas Eve we left out your plate for Santa with a glass of mulled cider, a mincepie and a carrot (for Rudolph).

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You’d been a VERY good boy this year so he cleared the lot and left lots of presents under the tree for you which you raced over to on Christmas morning and stared at them for an age.

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Despite being poorly you enjoyed opening your presents and playing with all your new toys (and their boxes), this took pretty much all day but that’s the best thing about Christmas.

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We had a lovely Christmas dinner with crackers. You had your first roast dinner, consisting of; nut roast, roast parsnips, roast potatoes, mash, broccoli, carrots and bread sauce. You tried a little bit of everything but didn’t eat a lot. I was just thrilled you had what you did considering you hadn’t eaten anything other than milk and porridge for days in the lead up to Christmas.

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I suppose the beauty of living away from family is that you get to have Christmas a few times over. On the 30th December, after you had shaken off the worst of your cold, we went back to Lyme and had another little Christmas with Auntie. You were spoilt rotten with lots of lovely gifts including a big red bus, bath toys and the most fabulous clothes. We did laugh at your dismissal of the ‘soft presents’, hoying them over your shoulder on opening.

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On the way back from Lyme we stopped off at Budleigh to see Uncle Dan and Auntie Sam where we got to have another mini Christmas (well, opening of presents anyway). You loved your mobile Bunny shape sorter and highchair steering wheel. We had a lovely time catching up with everyone and they all enjoyed seeing how much you’ve grown and changed.

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All in all, despite being poorly, we had a good time in the end and just hope that next year goes more according to plan.

Happy Christmas my darling boy, you amaze us daily.

Advent

If you know me you’ll know that we have decided to raise Noah (until he asks otherwise) to not have chocolate, added sugar, sweets or meat. My reasons for this are shared by my partner and remain our own. We feel that he will have most, if not all, of the above for the majority of his life and until he decides otherwise I feel there is no necessity for him to have them now.

I’m not, by doing this, in anyway criticising any parent who has/is giving their child chocolates in anyway shape nor form (just thought I’d get that in there before I get lynched).

So with all the traditional chocolate filled advent calendars filling the shelves, advent in this house consists of a wooden Advent Calender drawer unit which I’ve written little ‘promises’ in (activities for the day etc) although I’m now having to send this back as it’s broken (gah) and a special book I bought Noah for his first birthday.

Reading in my family has always been of utmost importance and as a child we didn’t have a television for a few years so read instead, often taking the time to discuss what we were reading as a family at the dinner table. Books are still a huge passion of mine now and I hope Noah shares this amazing world that only books can open.

I have been reading bedtime stories to Noah since he was 3 months old and I am now reading him one of these stories a night in the lead up to Christmas. I still recall stories that my mother read to me at Christmastime and whenever I come across them they still give me that tingly, excited feeling that Christmas gives to every child and remember those dark nights curled up with my mum on my bed being lulled to sleep by her melodic voice.

‘The Nights Before Christmas’ contains 24 classic stories illustrated by Tony Ross, probably best known for illustrating the Horrid Henry series of books. I spotted this in our local bookshop when the owner was unpacking them and I immediately fell in love with the whole idea of it. It contains 24 Christmas related stories and in buying this book I bought our first family Christmas tradition and I look forward to reading these stories in the run up to Christmas for many, many years to come. I hope Noah recalls such happy memories as I do when I think back to my own childhood.

The stories chosen are classic Christmas stories and poems written by authors including; Clement Clarke Moore, Hans Christian Anderson, Brothers Grimm, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Louisa May Alcott and many more.

We are now on Day 15 and although Noah hasn’t a clue what I’m reading him I’m starting to really get into the spirit of Christmas.

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Happy advent everyone, enjoy the treats you have chosen this year.