on Christmas cheer then and now

Advent Day 21

As I type this I am sitting in the middle of the remnants of present wrapping, there are bits of paper, sticky tape and labels all over the table and the parcels are looking nice and shiny under the Christmas tree.  It has made me think of the Christmas traditions that each family creates and holds close over the years.

We always spend Christmas Eve with good friends, taking turns in each others homes.  The same drinks and the same food is served and we try to play daft games before swapping presents.  Back in the day we would then put children to bed on the most exciting night of the year, before filling stockings and sorting things out for the next day’s cooking.  Now it is more likely those ‘children’ will be heading off to the pub at the end of the evening returning home to bed in the small hours.

This year, more than usually, there will be people missing from our Christmas celebrations.  We have lost some very close family members this year and they will be spoken of and remembered in our hearts and on our lips throughout the festivities.  There are other members of the family who are poorly, and, in truth this maybe the last Christmas for them, in fact you could say that for everyone.  If we knew that to be true, how important would the present shopping be?  Would it actually matter if everyone doesn’t get all they would like?  I doubt it.  I would want to hold everyone close and enjoy time with them.  The greatest gift of all is giving someone your time.  I plan to do just that this Christmas  I will be hugging my children, my husband and my sister and her husband.  I will be loving my nieces and nephews, some from afar, and ringing my Aunts for a natter as often as I can.  The joy for me is in the loving and caring we do for each other.

Other traditions will continue, the brothers will torment their little sister over the dinner table, the crackers will be pulled, the turkey carved and eaten and in the evening we will all get together at my son’s house to cuddle the little girl who will be spending her first ever Christmas with us all.  Her Mum and Dad are already thinking up new traditions for her which will last her a lifetime of exciting times.

Despite the difficulties and sadness of the past year at Christmas time I will be counting my blessings, I will be hugging my family to my heart and being glad, glad I have them and glad they have me.  This year I will have had more Christmas’s without my Mum and Dad than I did with them.  They are still here, with me everyday, in my thoughts and actions. Never more so than on Christmas morning when I prepare the veg for the dinner, Mum is by my side and we have a little smile together, just before a tear drops onto my cheek.  I can still see Dad, poorly on his last Christmas with us, holding his new grandson close, the same boy that this year is the Daddy making memories for his daughter, and I am remembering Dad being the happiest I have ever seen him.  They have gone nowhere at all.

So, happy times are ahead.  Lots of food and drink, presents to open and crackers to pull.  The hard work putting it all together is upon me, and I love every minute of it.  I have tried to think of a suitable song for tonight’s Advent, a song about Christmas, about tradition and about memories a song about families, the squabbles and the friendships the laughter and the tears.  I just couldn’t find one song to cover all of that, but this is a good one, from one of Mum’s favourite ever musical films, takes me right back to sitting beside her enjoying every moment.

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