Christmas to me, has never always been that exciting occasion that everyone loves. If anything it could be very lonely. There are very few times that I can count on my hands of memories apart from when I was a kid. Christmas back then was as it should be, filled with laughter and love. It was always such a special time where we would decorate the tree all together and hang those little chocolate decorations from it.
My mum could be a frightening women when she wanted to be so we knew if she caught us stealing the chocolates from the tree we were done for. So we would just take the chocolates from the back of the tree to replace the ones at the front. Genius.
I knew very early on that Santa hid the presents in the wardrobe or at the back of the airing cupboard and that trying to tear a corner off to see what was inside would quite often end in disaster. I had been known to rip off a little too much, panic and then end up having to open the whole thing and hide the evidence from my parents.
Thankfully my mum wouldn’t notice and when it came to the day I would just conceal it under my dressing gown and put it with the rest of the opened presents on Christmas morning.
In my defence my mum would buy the cheapest stuff going so it pretty much disintegrated as soon as you touched it. You know the stuff! It would come on a 50m roll and be see through when you held it up to the light. Then we would get out the black bin bag to clear up all the miles of the stuff that would pile up in the middle of the room.
Once we had opened our gifts we would be told to take them all upstairs out of the way. I remember I would stack them as high as I could to avoid having to make another trip downstairs again. I probably looked like Gus the mouse from Cinderella trying to collect up all the cheese under his chin because he was the greedy one.
Those were the days. The days where I hated Brussel sprouts, hid them in my napkin and flushed them down the loo. Those were the days. The days where I would genuinely be surprised by the gifts I received (apart from the sneaky ones I opened of course). I wish I could relive those moments again as to me that was Christmas. Relive opening my Dream Phone or Gameboy for the first time. Relive sitting in the lounge on my own, looking at the Christmas lights, smelling the over the top foil ceiling garlands held on with the previous years pins and listening to Mariah on repeat. Opening your presents, eating all the food and watching the EastEnders Christmas special was what we all know, love and remember.
I also remember the times when it wasn’t so happy. When I’ve felt lost, lonely and unfestive. When I was about 22 I had to move out of my parents because there was no longer enough room for me. It was a very hard time. I often felt like I had no real place to go because I had to rely on staying with friends and family. Although they didn’t mind initially I could see that I was outstaying my welcome so I never truly felt comfortable, I just felt like a bit of a burden.
I can recall a few times when I would wake up at friends houses on Christmas morning either on the floor or a sofa. I would then have to awkwardly make my escape before they started opening presents. Even though I would be spending it with my own family, I would still get given a token pity gift before I left. This would usually be a box of Cadbury Animals, or something similar, with a foil star stuck to the top so I didn’t feel left out.
All of my siblings had left home and moved away so our once big family dinners would be a much smaller affair. It would be without my brother and sisters, or just part of them. Although I love to think back on the fond old memories I have, its always these not so fond memories that stick out so prominently in my mind.
Then I met Timmy and the thought of Christmas became something to look forward to. But what I soon came to realise is that he’s spent more Christmases away than he’s had at home. I’ve become very accustomed to celebrating Christmas at random times of the month and actually it isn’t all bad. We get to have Christmas dinner at least twice. We also both celebrate our birthdays on the 29th and 31st of December. That annoying in between time or that time when everyone is thinking about New Year celebrations and quite often forget that its your birthday.
So even for Timmy, Christmas is never really Christmas unless he’s lucky enough to be home for it. He’s such a big kid at heart and he loves nothing more than to get dressed up in his snowman jumper, wear his mittens and novelty hat his mum knitted him, from the moment the word Christmas is mentioned.
Now I’m a parent, suddenly everything has a new meaning. I have never been more excited for something as I am this year. Although Timmy is yet again spending it on a cold dank oilrig I have Ernest to get excited for. I feel like all those memories I had as a kid can be relived, unfortunately not with Dream Phone, but with new traditions and new memories.
Even though Timmy will miss this year I’m actually glad its not a year when Ernest can truly understand and appreciate it and the magic of it. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, let alone next year with his line of work but whether he’s home for the beginning of December, the end of it or even the beginning of January, it will be our special time and our unique Christmas.
This month, and whilst I still have Timmy home for a couple more days yet, I plan to cram in a few new Christmas traditions. Our time together as a family this Christmas may be short but we’re dame sure making the most of it.
Excuse me whilst I go eat my cheese and crackers in front of the fire and watch a shite movie that Timmies chosen.
Merry 1st December everyone. We hope your Christmas is just as perfectly perfect or imperfect as ours.