Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Christmas Is Coming!

Some days, I just don’t want Christmas to happen. I want to pack it all up into a box and stick it back in the loft. Earlier this week I found myself, not unusually, in the supermarket. But I desperately wanted to run back out, jump in the car and go home. I didn’t want to be around the twinkly lights, festive songs, tins of Roses, mince pies, Baileys and antler wearing staff. I only went in for bleach!

I know everyone feels a bit that way at this time of year, but being Single Plus Baggage this advent has brought with it a new level of emptiness in the silent echoing gaps between songs and celebrations.

I don’t want to think about happy families singing carols around the piano, opening presents together by the tree and laughing happily as they look adoringly at each other over the turkey, trying not to spill gravy on their matching festive jumpers. I want to hide under my duvet and not resurface until January.

But, I have two fabulous children for whom the show must go on! So I pulled myself together and headed up to the school for an early morning concert.

Apart from being enormously proud of my children singing in their respective choirs, I was moved beyond words by another performance. A group of year 4 girls sang “Where Are You Christmas” from “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”, a superb film I can highly recommend. Anyway, one of these little ladies was extra special. I’ve watched her mature and blossom over the last 9 years, and she was amazing. She sang and smiled in angelic innocence throughout. And I cried…

Where are you Christmas?
Why can't I find you?
Why have you gone away?
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me?
Why can't I hear music play?

My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too?

My emotions were raging out of control and my lips were quivering dangerously, threatening to release a full on wail.

I adored Christmas as a child. I even loved Christmas as an adult. But those were simpler times. A traditional family with a mum, a dad and kids. We would choose whether to stay at home on our own, invite other family or go to theirs instead. Suddenly, just because there’s no husband in the picture, the kids and I are viewed as an incomplete family. Whatever will become of us in this time of good cheer? What if we “end up on our own?” The concerns visible on the faces of loving friends and family echo my own bleak thoughts.

I looked into the beautifully sincere faces of the girls who were singing straight into my heart. I dared not blink in case I released the cascade of tears welling up in my eyes…

Where are you Christmas?
Do you remember
The one you used to know?
I'm not the same one
See what the time's done
Is that why you have let me go?

But Christmas hasn’t let me go because I’ve got older, or because I’m no longer a wife. I’m the same person I was. I value and enjoy the same things. I can choose. I can choose to let Christmas go or I can choose to grab it by the reindeer horns and have some fun like the old days. I clenched my tissues tightly as the girls sang on…

Christmas is here
Everywhere, oh
Christmas is here
If you care, oh

If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time

Suddenly, it all made sense. I was inspired to bring back my kind of Christmas. I couldn’t hold back the tears now. But they were tears of hope and joy not loneliness and fear. I wanted to dance out and rediscover my passion for all things festive.

But, putting that into practice when I left behind that safe, warm, school hall bursting with innocence and promise was another story. Then, my own Christmas miracle happened.

One evening my car broke down. Nothing miraculous about that I agree. More inconvenient and annoying I’d say. They’re not the actual words I said but let’s not get caught up in the detail. Anyway, when I finally got home, courtesy of a rather lovely RAC man I might add, I went into a panic. How was I going to collect my Christmas tree the next morning??? I know, “First World Problems” I hear you mutter, but stick with me.

I had no husband to fall back on and everyone else with a big car was busy. What if they sold all the bushy trees before I could find someone free to help me? I was stumped, annoyingly dependent and, once again, quite obviously on my own. Then, a spark of inspiration. I asked a friend if I could borrow her transit van to bring the tree home and she said yes! I imagine I felt something of what Mary may have experienced when she realised Joseph had a donkey to transport her and her bump to Bethlehem. Or not. Anyway, suddenly I felt back in control.

So, the very next morn, with the kids in the back of the van supervising the tree that was poking through to the front and bashing me on the head, I drove us all home from the garden centre. And lo, there was music. But we didn’t make our journey accompanied by the tuneful voice of Michael Bublé. Oh no. The kids were composing, and singing at great volume, their version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” all about food. Did they have 5 gold rings? No, they did not. They had 5 onion rings! And did each verse end with a partridge in a pear tree? Absolutely not! It was a par-snip that was hair-y!

They sang their hearts out, and I laughed so hard I cried… again! I was deliriously happy. My family is awesome. We make an unbeatable team.

So, I got my Christmas magic back. We went out and bought new Christmas lights – indoor and outdoor. I found a recipe for a chocolate Christmas pudding covered in Maltesers that we can’t wait to attempt. And we have a new brightly lit sign in the front window that simply says, “Joy”.

I’m not letting this spark inside me disappear. Santa will fill the kids’ stockings this year as usual, but obviously he’s a helper down in our household so I had thought it could be time for me to grow up and put my empty stocking away… Not a chance! I’m keeping the dream alive for me and the kids by making sure my stocking is full of things I love – some snuggly socks, a dark chocolate orange, a mindfulness colouring book with pencils, a brain-bending puzzle, an origami kit and a novel I can’t wait to read!

I feel you Christmas
I know I've found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love

Whilst you’re busy this Christmas trying to fulfill everyone else’s wishes, remember what makes it special for you too. Your circumstances may be different, but you’re still you inside. And you deserve a very happy Christmas. Choose to make it happen.

And to the beautiful year 4 angel who helped me rediscover my Christmas mojo, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.



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