Saturday, 17 December 2011

The other side of Christmas...

Handmade wreath by my sister-in-law Janet

Amidst all the fun and frivolity that accompanies Christmas I have to be honest and admit that it's not my favourite time of year. I haven't had a tough life by any means but it does seem that throughout my adult life, the difficult periods have always fallen around this time of year and for me, like many others, old wounds can sometimes open up a little in this season of remembrance.

Ten years ago I spent Christmas morning with my dad visiting my mum in hospital where she'd been for the previous two months following heart surgery and where my dad had been every day since. I was also in the process of changing jobs and relocating to another part of the country so was pretty stressed myself. We returned to my parents home in the afternoon and I cooked Christmas lunch while my exhausted dad dozed in a chair. My mum never left hospital and after contracting a respiratory infection and MRSA died a month later.

The following year I moved into a brand new house (where I still live) five days prior to Christmas and my dad came to spend it with me - both of us glad to have so much to distract us with all the things that needed doing to make the house a home. Before the Christmas after that I had lost my dad as well. 

My lovely mum and dad at a Christmas party about 50 years ago!

Don't get me wrong - I don't spend the festive season in a miserable fug... I join in with the fun with friends and family and am thankful for the the good times. But I'm always a little relieved when it's over, normality resumes and I can get on with life in my usual positive manner. Ten years may seem like a long time but when you accumulate such events over a long period of time you develop mechanisms to cope with Christmas but not necessarily to embrace it as fully as others.

I can empathise with other people when they say they don't like Christmas because it's all too easy to dismiss the sentiment with a throwaway comment like 'Bah humbug!' But we don't always know what other people have been through and how Christmas affects them. Emotions are heightened at this time of year and it can be really overwhelming when you feel out of kilter with the rest of the planet, so a little understanding and a hug can go a long way.

That said, I'm now off to continue with my preparations and do some things that make me smile. The lovely wreath my sister-in-law made me is on the front door, the tree will go up this evening and I have a pile of cards to deliver by hand. It's very chilly here today so I think some wine mulling may be in order too...

I hope you are all well on the way with your preparations and that those of you who need to, can find the time and space to reflect and remember.



  1. "Watch Your Thoughts, For They Become Words...
    Watch Your Words, For They Become Actions....
    Watch Your Actions, For They Become Habits....
    Watch Your Habits, For They Become Character....
    Watch Your Character, For It Becomes Your Destiny".

    "Friends Are Like Bras....Close To Your Heart, And, Always There For Support".

  2. I've always loved the seasons of Advent and Christmas, and threw myself into decorating, baking, shopping, and organizing events like the chilren's play at church, and the annual holiday home tour in our town. But all that changed when mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in April of last year. She suffered horribly for so long, and passed away this June. Last Christmas was filled with dread and sorrow, and this year without mom, well Christmas will never be the same without her. She delighted in the holidays even more than me. This year I'm ready for it all to be over and for the new year to begin.

    I'm so sorry that you have lost both your mother and father. I can't imagine how that has changed your life.

    My wish for you is peace this Christmas season.

  3. Lesley, Here is a BIG HUG from across the pond. I lost my Dad three days after Thanksgiving in 06 and it is still sad to not have him here during the holidays. He loved this time of year he was such a big kid when it came to the holiday season.
    I know how it feels not having my Dad here I think I will be lost for a while when my Mom is no longer with us, which I hope that will be for a long time, but only God knows the answer to that. Wishing you and your family a blessed Holiday Season.

  4. Oh and I meant to say your sister in law makes beautiful wreaths. I love all of the little natural tid-bits she used.

  5. A big hug from me as well, Lesley. I lost my mom on December 23rd, 11 years ago. The holidays were always a special time for our family, My mom raised 5 kids on her own, on a secretary's salary. She worked hard & saved all year long to be able to squirrel away money to buy her kids presents & to help Santa fill stockings for Christmas morning. I do my best to enjoy Christmas & to put on a happy face for those around me, when I am secretly wishing it would be over & it was January 1st. Janet's wreath is beautiful!

  6. So true, holidays can be a mix of so many different experiences and emotions. Its good to focus on the happy and special moments. Your wreath is beautiful. I love the reflections in the glass panes, quite a wondereful photograph! -Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ;)

  7. I love the wreath -- and I totally and completely understand about sadness at Christmas. I've spent a few Christmas' completely alone and it was awful.


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