It’s almost that time of the year again. I know, I know, where did the last 12 months go? Seems like it was only a few weeks ago that we were packing away the Christmas decorations and yet here we are again, ordering the turkey, planning the New Year’s Eve party and wondering what gift to get for Aunt Ada, when Aunt Ada seems to have everything she needs and totally wants for nothing. Ah, Christmas – it’s my absolute favourite time of the year – I love it.
Even though the children are all grown up now, Christmas still holds the same magic for me. We still have Christmas crackers and I’m still the last one to be wearing the hat. We still play charades and board games (the TV hardly goes on – but computers and the internet are making that particular tradition harder every year). We still put up a secret grotto on Christmas Eve once the younger ones have gone to bed so they can wake up to a magical scene on Christmas morning (now who could have possibly done that? It must be Christmas magic). We’ve been creating this ‘magic’ ever since my children were babies and even though they now have children of their own, we’ve continued the ritual, silently sneaking around after they’ve retired for the night, hanging up lights and creating a ‘snowy’ village (using lots of fake snow fabric) in the hallway.
Christmas holds lots of happy memories for me and I like to believe we’ve created the same for our (now grown-up) children and they love Christmas with all that it means to them, in the same way. No matter how rotten the previous year has been (and believe me, 2018 has been an absolute stinker for us), once those carols are back on Spotify, the feeling of hope starts to flicker into life again – along with the lights on the tree. And for me, no matter what belief or religion anyone wants to pin on it, that is the true spirit of Christmas. The feeling of hope.
I appreciate it isn’t the same for everyone. Let me tell you, I’ve been there! I still have vivid memories of being a single mum, trying to work full-time whilst bringing up 2 children. Every Christmas was the same: I would worry about their presents, I would worry about how I was going to pay for everything, I would worry the kids would be disappointed. I would worry my Christmas dinner was nothing like the ridiculous expectations forced on me by the ideal world of the commercial Neverland. But you know what? The kids never once complained they didn’t have the latest ‘must have’ toy (anyone remember the furore over the Cabbage Patch Dolls?). They never once said ‘yuk’ (at least not to my face) to my less than perfect Christmas dinner without all the trimmings or ridiculed the homemade decorations – and Heaven knows I used a lot of glue and cotton wool back then.
The fact was, we all knew it was tough. Even at their young age, kids are not stupid – they recognised they didn’t live in Neverland; you don’t all huddle under a duvet on the sofa every evening because you can’t afford to put the heating on in Neverland. Sure, they could have kicked off and told me I was a rubbish mother for not providing them with a pony, or central heating or a dinner with all the trimmings, but they never did. Now, they contribute towards Christmas as much as anyone and dare I say it, they even look forward to it and embrace it as much as I always have… maybe hope is contagious after all.
So, whoever and wherever you are – we would all like to wish you and yours a very happy, happy Holiday and trust that 2019 brings you all the hope, health and peace you could wish for.