Christmas Past and Christmas Present: Dreams vs Reality

There was a time about 11 years ago when I really didn’t think much of Christmas. Yes it was a time of year when most of my friends came home and we went out Christmas Eve for a big get together and lots of drinks, but one big thing was missing: my Dad. Sadly my Dad died of Lung Cancer in 2002 when I was 21. Christmas lost a bit of its magic for me and I think for my Mum and brother. It wasn’t until I met my husband, who is totally into Christmas from half way through November that I rediscovered the joy. Now as a mum of two I have found more joy in looking at Christmas through my girls’ eyes and what excites them.

We all have a perfect Christmas in our heads; a dream maybe of how Christmas was when we were little, or the perfect day if only we were in sole charge and certain relatives had complete personality transplants. Thinking quickly, Christmas was perfect when I was little, talk to my Mum and you get a different story. Mum remembers: the Christmas where a mouse decided to electrocute itself on the back of the cooker meaning only half of it worked, the Christmas where Wessex Water knocked on the door at 8am and said they were switching off the mains water supply in 10 minutes for the next 6 hours, and Christmas of all Christmases when we had a phone call at 7.30pm Christmas Day to say that my paternal grandfather had sadly died two hours earlier. The first two are now laughed about regularly and, if we are honest, Granddad’s demise is remembered fondly as being pretty spectacular and a fitting way to make an exit.

I don’t think perfect exists, and if it does, I’m not sure I want perfect. All my 34 Christmases so far are full of memories; some good and some bad. The four Christmases we have had with the girls have also been eventful. Bebe’s first Christmas was my first opportunity to put my stamp on lunch as everyone came to us.  Unfortunately, I was getting over Shingles  and at one point during this day I was worried my mother-in-law was going to expire on the sofa. She had just come to the end of 6 rounds of chemotherapy and I hadn’t realised just how much it took out of someone. She wanted to be there for her first grandchild’s first Christmas, so in reality it was a beautiful day; Bebe was surrounded by all her close family on both sides.

Bebe’s third Christmas was Lala’s first and, sadly my mother-in-law’s last. I don’t remember this season with sadness though. We made it a good Christmas, we decorated my in-law’s house and got their tree, I cooked Christmas dinner for everyone and my sister-in-law took it round to her parents’ so they had proper Christmas meal even though my mother-in-law was almost too ill to eat it. It wasn’t perfect, the family were in several different places but we were brought together by food and presents and a love for one another (trite but true).

This year? Well this year’s Christmas hasn’t quite happened yet. It’s the 23rd December as I write this. So far we have had Bebe’s Nativity; bits recorded by Himself so my mum and his dad could see some of it. We have also had Bebe’s first ballet performance; a lovely evening with some great dancing, slightly spoiled by Lala trying to throw herself over me and Mum at various points (Mum had to take her home half way through). Both girls have had Christmas parties, eaten too much chocolate and made some very funny/cute Christmas pictures.

They have also managed to drive me crazy by refusing to do as they are told, crying, whinging, jumping up and down on my bed and the sofa, hitting me and each other. However we have yet to have the glitter explosion that another friend had with her 6 year old yesterday!

It’s not perfect yet the reality of Christmas is ups, downs, round and rounds but never, ever boring. I love you all.

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