Here we are in the final countdown to Christmas, only 3 more sleeps as they would say. I like to think we still have time for everything that needs done and so I’m continuing with that mentality!
Having completed the decorating in our home during the first week of December, I can honestly say it was not as enjoyable as I had first hoped. Contending with three little people all with minds of their own and wishing to be of help and competing to ensure that they were given the same number of baubles to add to the tree as the other it was downright stressful at times. With little patience shown between them and me; them wanting a chasing sequence of lights and tantalizing tunes played and I wishing for just a little more time, decibels were raised and the finger was shaken! Not so helpful either was that Daddy was not present for any part of it to even act as referee never mind help with the lights. Understandably decorating while small children are in bed makes much more sense, however after tears were spilled due to them not being there when it started I felt I wanted to involve them. It makes me happy when they are happy, and they loved being able to help. Seeing their little faces light up with joy at the twinkling lights and stare up with amazement at all the decorations I can see for myself they feel it is magical just like I had many years before. Maybe next year I could assign my hubby one room to decorate along with ‘Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas’, fruit shoots and milky way buttons and I will get ‘My Wonderful Life’ back on coupled with mulled wine and mince pies in the other.Being one of those people who absolutely love this time of year, I am not exaggerating when I say that I look forward to it all year round. Having the opportunity to decorate our home, transforming it into a little fairytale backdrop of sparkly, wintery grandeur and make everywhere twinkle and twirl that can only help create a little bit of mystical enchantment. Having always been known as a person to day dream and wish for something that we only see in the movies, no one can blame me for trying to bring a little bit of this magic to life. Our home becomes a little haven of fairy lights, musical snow globes, garlands on fireplaces, sills and stairs. There is silver, there is gold, red and tartan, stars, angels, hearts and candy canes. We carry traditions of Santa visits, catch ups with friends, trips to fairs and markets, carol services and church, celebrating the real reason for this festive season, that of Jesus. Being in the company of family to spend time, sharing stories; crying a little, laughing a lot and simply feeling contented and happy to be together. Memories are held dear to me and such ones are of something like a scene taken from ‘Little Women’ when together with extended family, the piano was played and carols were sung. Back then even as a little girl, perhaps unaware to anyone else in that room I knew the moment was so precious and something that perhaps would never happen again. Luckily for me I have that memory captured on video taken by my Dad and it might soon be time to have another watch yet again.
However as much as I feel the way I do, during this holiday time when opportunity is presented to be able to spend time with others, those others may no longer be there and so their absence is felt all the stronger. Shortly after getting married, now over 8 years ago, just less than four months having passed we lost my husband’s mother. Although we were starting out on our happy married life and at a time when most newly weds are still usually on cloud 9 after excitement from the wedding and honeymoon our happiness soon turned to much sadness having to let go of such a remarkably strong, gracious and reverent lady. This was my lovely mother in law who I never had the opportunity to spend much longer with. So it was to be. The emotions are still so raw and perhaps always will be due to the nature of such a heartbreaking period. Being without my own father now for 14 years and feeling as though I have nearly become a different person in the time that has passed to what he would have knew back then you do in time adapt but it does not necessarily get any easier. You find ways of coping; you learn to adjust over time as there is no other way for it. The year of ‘firsts’ is long over – not having dad or my mother in law for the first time at Christmas, New Year, Fathers Day, Mothering Sunday, Dad’s birthday, Mother in law’s birthday and so the list could continue. With each year that comes about you are a little better prepared to deal with the feelings that follow. The void that came is still there and always will be. We miss them both terribly. This is a time of year packed with music and singing and for me personally I can still hear my dad’s voice joining the tenor melodies of hymns. Dad loved singing and every so often I find myself choked with emotion during particular pieces. Regularly I envisage what he would say or do in certain situations. I let my mind wander and imagine what possibly could have been, now with a total of seven grandchildren on my side in the family I can only imagine, that’s all I can do, as to how much fun and enjoyment each of our parents would have experienced and likewise our children in return. Unfortunately that was not how it was planned to be. Everyone deals with their grief differently and for our wider family as we always do, we will continue to talk of Dad often, share his stories, learn from his lessons, laugh at his jokes, shed tears both for sadness and joy and ultimately lovingly remember him for everything that he was by keeping his memory alive for as long as we are here. For my husbands family they likewise quietly remember the precious times spent with their mother and talk of her qualities and strength of character to both express themselves and release their emotion as well as tell our children all about her. For so many people, Christmas can be a very difficult and sad time. There are so many reasons as to why some people are simply not looking forward to the festive break at all. Not everyone is surrounded by large families and so they may feel very sad and alone. It may be that it is the first Christmas without a loved one, having lost someone so very recently or that loved ones are far away from home. Perhaps it is that people are very ill, in pain enduring suffering and having to spend the period in a hospital. Maybe there are some who are enduring unhappiness in their relationships and experiencing break ups and separation. Possibly elderly people feel very isolated and are no longer able to move about as they once were, feeling frustrated and annoyed. Worries and stresses to do with finance, battling with depression, relationship difficulties, struggling with mental illness, family issues, job problems, unhealthy habits…..the list is unending. Being aware, showing understanding, consideration and being respectful that not everyone can be jovial and festive for these very reasons is very important. It may be a time of year that others wish to pass off swiftly not wanting to think what once was or what could be and just simply wanting to forget about things entirely. Treating others as to how we would wish to be treated ourselves goes a long way. Sometimes we drift along in our own little bubble, only able to see as far as the four walls surrounding us, thinking how difficult we have it and yet we have no idea how difficult it is for others and how actually we should be so grateful. We find ourselves always wanting for more and never being content with everything we already have. We should be grateful and appreciate all that we have, as we are rich with so many blessings.With Christmas this week the question on everyone’s lips is “Have you all your shopping done?”, the chat for weeks has all been about gift ideas and present guides. From what little time I have had to sit down and see, most of these have seemed to be of great use and provided a lot of ideas. I especially enjoyed Aly Harte’s ‘A Norn Irish Gift Guide’ detailing all our very own NI makers, artists and businesses. Being able to support local is something that each of us like to do more of these days especially with these recent times of trading difficulty. If you haven’t already seen it you should check it out as there is a little in it for everyone and all within our own little isle makes it all the more special. This year I am so disorganised and perhaps when I get to that stage of starting to plan (there still is time right?!) I may very well be consulting them, if there is even going to be any planning involved this time round. As the great saying goes we may have to ‘wing it’ this year. There will come a time possibly around Christmas Eve that I may be able to say I am totally finished, here is hoping so anyhow. As a friend recently posted questioning and saying “ever feel like some year that you are not going to be able to ‘pull it all off’ in time for Christmas, that this might actually be the year”…..you are not alone, we are all in it together and it will come and it will go and we will get through it and everything will be just fine. Breathe…. and let’s go.As we grow older, I believe our Christmas list gets smaller and the things that we really truly find ourselves wanting for cannot be bought in any stores but are those intangible goods which are wrapped up with beautiful sentiment from the heart. Aside from giving others some of our time and energy, by showing simple acts of kindness can lift people up in extraordinary ways that we never knew possible. By talking, listening, laughing, saying thank you, smiling, paying attention, being respectful, showing thoughtfulness, giving out complements, celebrating others successes, showing care and kindness, saying a prayer of peace to all and remembering this is the season of peace on earth and good will toward men we can feel satisfied and know that no shop needs visited and that any of us are capable of giving these simply gifts at any time never mind now at Christmas.
In saying that I can and will dream on like any other girl with a year round wish list of perfume, clothes, cosmetics, shoes, make up, handbags, jewellery, stationery, candles…. I could go on (and my husband says that I am difficult to buy for?!) but I am so happy and content with things just as they are. One year I wish for the opportunity to head away with family and friends for Christmas, getting away from all the hustle and bustle by reaching that log cabin hidden away in a land of white taking turns on the slopes, warming up in front of a roaring fire and eating a feast of turkey and gammon. Aside from that wish I will continue to dream of that one present under the tree that seems to keep moving and for a puppy to appear just like the one from ‘Lady and the Tramp’….that’s me …always dreaming.
A beautiful heart can bring things into your life that all the money in the world couldn’t obtain.
Author Bau Voire