Happy New Year
Did you have a good Christmas? Surprisingly, I did!
Why surprisingly? Well, something you should know from the outset, is that Christmas is my happy place. I start getting the warm and fuzzy feeling from around October time, and will start listening to Christmas music even before Halloween. I love the smell of tinsel and get shamelessly excited every year when I see my first length of the sparkly stuff dangling from shop windows. My husband and children will keep watch for me as I dive face-first into a wodge of tinsel and inhale the musty scent “ahhhh Christmas” I sigh. My family are amused, and often embarrassed, but they know that tinsel sniffing is a highlight for me and its also a useful tool for them – Mums in bitch mode…wham, a fistful of tinsel gets shoved in my face with an order to breathe deeply, like a paramedic with an oxygen mask.
This year, I felt the need for the comfort of my Christmas tree more strongly and earlier than ever, so just before heading out to watch the fireworks on Bonfire Night, I put up my tree, lights and all. I can telepathically hear so many, if not all of you, shaking your heads and saying “ridiculous, that’s way too soon” Yes, I will agree with you, but here’s the psychology behind it…
When I was a kid, my Mum used to let myself and my brothers put up a tree in our bedrooms on the 28th November each year. This is my eldest brother’s birthday. It would be my best day of the whole year beside Christmas day itself! I would lay in bed at night in the dark, aside from a twinkling 4ft tree glittering with multi-coloured lights, scraps of tinsel and baubles held up with old pieces of rainbow coloured wool. The weight of my heavy blankets which my Mum tucked me into tight, my Christmas story LP playing on my record player and the snugness of my little box room felt like the safest and most special place in my world. It was where I learned to be alone and enjoy solitude; someone else in the room ruined the magic. Christmas has been and will always be my happy place!
This year however, for the first time in my life, I simply could not muster up my ‘festive feels’. My husband tried his best to give me as much Christmas fun as possible. He took me to Christmas markets in London, Liverpool and Chester, but we had to concede that they lacked in atmosphere, were smaller than in previous years and had the same stands with limited variety in each. Very disappointing. I had two Christmas meals in lovely restaurants with colleagues, several present shopping days, pressie wrapping with my favourite tipple in front of my favourite Christmas films and a trip to the Christmas panto on Christmas eve. Still, my festive fuzzy feelings eluded me.
I knew the cause of my numbness though. My children.. or lack of children. This was the first year that I would not be tucking my children into bed on Christmas eve, no excited conversations about the presents under the tree, no hanging of their stockings on the bedroom door handle whilst they slept. This year, my children woke Christmas morning at their Dad’s house, and I have no doubt he was ecstatic about it. This was the first Christmas that I was not selfish, and it made everyone happy, except me; I was bereft!
At 15 and 16, my kids knew me well enough to understand that I would be gutted Christmas morning, but would never tell them that. So, 9.30am, they showed up in our kitchen, singing Christmas songs and carrying presents. They spent an hour at home with us opening their gifts, and I was so happy to see how much thought they had put into all the gifts which they bought for us. I had perfume, posh hair products and a Stephen King biography from the kids, and my fabulous hubby bought me very posh perfumes, a gorgeous pair of Michael Kors shoes and a Lulu Guinness suitcase for our hols. Spoilt rotten!!
Later that morning, Hubby and I visited my parents and were invited to have Christmas dinner. My far from subtle wallowing round their house the week before, complete with self-pitying droning about how cruel it is that I would be ‘cooking’ dinner for two this year, and how dreadfully lonely it would be for us alone, chewing on my charred, under / over cooked turkey with crappy gravy made of granules and hot water..*slumps into chair and sighs* – it worked. They fed us – yay.
When we finished our meal, my brother, his wife and my niece visited. We had non-stop laughter as we played games, opened presents and teased each other as only siblings can. We had a blimmin brilliant day! On Boxing Day we all congregated at my parents house again, only this time my older brother and his family joined us too. More games, more presents, lots more laughter and lots more teasing, although I am pleased to report that these days, when I win the sarcasm war, I no longer get a dead-leg as a reward.
Today, Christmas 2018 feels like months ago. My tree is coming down, the chocolates and cakes are mostly all munched and we are all definitely turkey’d out. New Years passed in a blur and now we are all back in work. Today, my son turned 15 years old and I am realising that actually, its the past 16 years which have passed in a blur! It is only now that I am understanding what my festive blues was really about. I missed my babies! I wasn’t really missing my teenagers because they were at their Dad’s for Christmas, I was missing them as 5 year olds, 8 year olds, 10 year olds… It wasn’t my ‘festive feels’ that I lost, it was theirs!