I adore Christmas and this year, I’m more excited than ever. The Biggest is full of it this year, thanks to being at school, and the Littlest takes immense joy in removing all the baubles she can reach [rolls eyes].
But there’s another side to Christmas for me and I’m pretty sure many of you too.
That empty chair at the dinner table where a loved one should be sitting. The gaping hole that no one else could possibly fill. The family member who has passed away will always be missed but especially at this time of year.
Personally, it will be 16 years ago tomorrow since we lost my darling grandma, so Christmas for us has always been tinged with a little sadness as it reminds us she’s not here anymore.
She was amazing at Christmas, putting on a simple but delicious spread every year for all of my childhood. She once gave me a “get-out-of-doing-lots-of-job job” and asked me to whisk the cream for her legendary trifle – as it takes a while to whip the cream, it meant I could only be assigned to that one job, rather than the gazillions she and my mum were doing, clever huh? 😉 This story comes out every Christmas but honestly, there could be hundreds of funny tales like this.
So while I’m wrapping my presents up, with festive tunes blasting out of the little radio in the bedroom, I’m very conscious of those presents I’ve not had to buy and this year in particular, I’m devastated for my friends and neighbours who have lost loved ones very recently.
My elderly neighbour across the road is alone for Christmas, after losing her husband in October. My next-door-but-one neighbour lost her husband on Sunday. My friend lost his nan at the weekend. Losing someone at this time of year is just even more cruel somehow. It seems even more painful because everyone else is having such a wonderful time.
What can you say to people in this situation? Very little. No words can heal their hurt or bring their loves ones back.
For my family at least, talking about my grandma – how she’d laugh at my mum cooking an amazing Christmas lunch but forgetting the pigs in blankets, how she’d love to see her great grandchildren making an almighty racket and mess on Christmas Day, how she’d love to have a debate about Brexit and Donald Trump and how that time she got drunk on gin and orange and slept in the dog basket – honours her memory and keeps her alive in our hearts. And we hug each other a little tighter for a little longer, knowing what those extra few seconds mean.
So give your friends and family an extra big hug, folks, life is precious.
I’m off for a little cry now….