As an only child I remember Christmas as being surrounded by ‘old people’. My father’s strict Welsh Presbyterian family didn’t bring much joy to Christmas and my strongest memory is being made to put money in the ‘Oxfam Box’ every time I forgot to say please or thank you. I also seemed to be plagued by illness too-always in my aunt and uncle’s home. As I grew up the joy didn’t come either. Having all ‘signed the pledge’ the family didn’t take kindly to my student merriment on returning home from a Christmas Eve lunchtime ‘session’ and I was, to say the least, chastised.
Happy Christmases for my daughter
When my own daughter was born I went all out to ensure our Christmases were beautiful and happy, with lots of lovely food, decorations everywhere and lots of friends and family around us, but then, when she was 10, my father-in-law died in the November and my mother had a massive heart attack just before Christmas, from which, I was told she would not recover. In fact she lived for a further 13 years, but for more than half of those years she very weirdly ended up in hospital with heart failure on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day, so my poor daughter strongest memory of Christmas is being in A&E. In fact, Christmas became a time we all dreaded.
But, in the last 4 years we’ve managed 2 lovely Christmases skiing in the French Alps. Last year this was curtailed by my husband falling off his bike on ice at the beginning of December and breaking his pelvis, (although this didn’t totally ruin the season, we just had lots of parties at home.) Now he’s been back riding for a few months and has just got the ‘all clear’ to ski too. So fingers crossed we’ll be back in Tignes in a few weeks time. Despite the trees, twinkling lights, and snow,Christmas is actually pretty low key in the Alps, which suits us too -shops open and you can be as celebratory -or not – as you wish. So that’s the plan …just one BIG problem at the moment though -a definite lack of snow. Recently I’ve begun to really annoy myself as I trawl the Tignes and Val d’Isers websites daily, hoping to see flurries at resort level, even though I know no snow is forecast. But I have to be an optimist.
Decked in holly and ivy
My home in Cornwall will still be decked in holly, ivy and yew from the garden and sparkling candles and tea-lights in every room with a pre-Christmas party organised, and tucked in our ‘cave’ in France are another load of decorations to make us feel joyous in our little apartment, although if the view from the window isn’t white the ‘joy’ may be slightly forced. And, whilst we do spend ridiculous amounts on each other at Christmas, as a family we know all too well that the real happiness comes from being healthy and happy in each other’s company. I have several friends who for one reason and another spend Christmas alone and the pressure to be joyous is tremendous and therefore all the more depressing when you are by yourself. So I am very thankful I have a child who still chooses our company and a husband who is happy to go along with what I want to do!!! I will raise a glass to my dear departed non-drinking Welsh family and to my friends at home alone and hopefully I’ll be carving lovely turns in fresh fluffy powder.
I hope yours is filled with joy!
Photo credit: SusieB