Is a nice one.
My family has always been known for our Christmases. Or rather, our mum was. She was always the person to loudly exclaim “Santa’s watching” when my sisters and I were acting up. She had a light up reindeer which we would place outside our house, and (Much to Mum’s joy) would get commented on by our neighbours.
We had Christmas jumpers, mulled wine and mince pie evenings, we had decorations up on the 1st of December, and Mum would start buying Christmas food and drink early; I’m talking stockpiling alcohol in August, to join the ranks of the alcohol we never even got through the year before.
As children, our December mornings were not quite complete until Mum asked us if we opened our advent calendars, and I would always tell her what shaped chocolate I got. Mum would always come into my room when I was older and sit on my bed as I got ready for school. “Have you opened your advent calendar?” and then she’d ask for the chocolate. And in the December evenings, our days weren’t quite complete if we didnt have a mince pie because “it’s Christmas!”
These memories are so ingrained into my Christmases, that I feel like she is still living and breathing, somewhere.
Our last Christmas together was a sad one. We had a doctor’s appointment on December 27th, and Mum was consumed by it. We knew something was going to change. Our Christmas dinner was delicious but it was destroyed by Mum crying because “all I can taste is chemicals.” A big difference from her joyous explosions of “It’s Christmas!” It broke our hearts.
Mum used to put a lot of pressure on Christmas. She wanted it to go perfectly; I think Katie and I just wanted to have fun, and we would moan a little bit when Mum would ask us to help in the kitchen, or Katie and I had to wash up. What a lovely thing to get frustrated about.
Last Christmas was weird. I remember thinking, but it’s just a Tuesday. This isn’t Christmas. I thought; Christmas must be dead too.
This year, I barely thought about Christmas, until I got sad. The sad I hadn’t felt in a long time; the one that winds up your ankles, suffocates your body and straps you down into your life; and the days begin to slip away, again.
I spoke to my friend and realised; Christmas isn’t Christmas anymore.
“The Christmas songs I used to love sound overplayed and overused.”
“The colours seem bland and boring.”
“Fairylights seem pathetic and stupid.”
My Mum tried to make Christmas a special occasion every year (“it’s Christmas!”), and last year everything was sucked out of Christmas.
This year, the build up has been fun. After my wobble, my friend and I went on a “friend date” together; we drank mulled wine, watched the ice skating, perused the markets, and I heard Christmas songs I had long-since forgotten about.
For this Christmas, I take and will take every single day as it comes. London is extraorinary at this time of year; and every corner seems to fill me with joy. I am falling in love with Christmas again.
Every milestone is hard. You have to mourn old traditions, mourn all the old Christmases you had, and mourn the future Christmases you thought you would have. I’m not sure what is the hardest bit to mourn, everything about it has the possibility to feel awful.
And when you have done that, you can breathe peacefully, and start to make new traditions, like not eating turkey (Katie and I never really liked it anyway), or pay homage to old traditions, like drinking a lot of the baileys.
At the beginning of December, I held a mulled wine and mince pie evening for my friends, in my little uni room. We played Christmas songs, chatted and laughed. You wouldn’t have known it, but my heart was sad, yet my spirit was happy. I think my mum would be proud of me, and my sister, because we stare pain in the face, and hug it until it leaves.
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope that it treats you kindly, I hope you create happy memories, and I hope you feel everything you need to feel.