That's it for another year. The tinsel seems to hang limply, rather than be draped merrily, after Boxing Day, doesn't it? The tree with all it's garlands & trinkets has lost its sparkle. Being knee deep in discarded wrapping paper in a perpetual Christmas Day, where you find yourselves still in your PJs three days later eating Celebrations for breakfast having lost track of the days.
Is it Saturday? Friday? No it's Saturday - isn't it?
We put all of our decorations up on December 1st. We wanted to make the most of the lead up to the event, to turn all of the planning & preparation into part of the celebration and not treat it like a chore, so that's what we have done every year since the children were small. We've enjoyed so many wonderful Christmases together. Making the decs, wrapping gifts for family, playing board games together with the inevitable tantrums from the youngest when it doesn't go her way and meltdowns from L when it all gets a bit overwhelming for him. Even the shit bits are what makes our Christmases perfect for us. The little idiosyncrasies that make us who we are.
New PJs & hot chocolate on Christmas Eve - a tradition from my own childhood. Opening stockings on Christmas morning with the hope it will buy us an extra half hour's snooze. L having his pizza instead of a turkey roast with the rest of us. Taking it in turns to open presents, forgetting whose turn it was and then two kids opening gifts at the same time and bickering about it. Eating chocolate for breakfast. The festive idyll that makes it what it is for us as a family, the same one enjoyed in homes the world over. It is what you make it, your traditions and your memories are your own to make and enjoy.
Yesterday I read that the talented and inspirational Kate Gross - the head of the African Governance Initiative - sadly passed away early on Christmas morning, aged 36. She didn't have the last Christmas she talked about in 'May your days be merry and bright', didn't see her twin sons opening their stockings one last time. She talks about enjoying all of it, not just the main event. Understanding that the crap comes hand in hand with the wonderful, and embracing all of it as one. I read her beautiful article through tears as I imagined the desperately sad loss her family were experiencing while the rest of us were either sleeping soundly, or watching small children ripping into gifts through bleary eyes whilst nursing a cup of strong coffee.
Kate's words struck a chord with me, and really validate what I have always believed in. None of us know what is around the corner, just how many Christmases we have left with those we love. I hold an unwavering belief that we should all celebrate our festive traditions in whatever way we see fit, delight in every precious moment and pay no mind to those who pour scorn on the magic of Christmas in whatever form it takes in your home. Create your memories, make the most of your time together, have your fun.
None of us know what is in store, and if by some devastating twist of fate this Christmas turned out to be my last, I am content in the knowledge that my family will all have lasting, happy memories of it - making gingerbread and mince pies, living with endless metres of tinsel festooning the living room for a month, standing outside on Christmas Eve under a crisp night sky gazing at the stars waiting for Father Christmas (aka the ISS) to pass over from the West, poking fun at A's gift wrapping that was so good nobody could actually open the gift, staying in our jimjams a little too long, and eating just a bit too much chocolate - and I wish the same to be true for all of you.
I hope that you all had the happiest Christmas, however you spent it and whoever you spent it with. I know that I did, and that I will continue to revel in the enchantment and despair at the disharmony of our Christmases for as many years as I am gifted with. Rest in peace, Kate.