I was about 6, it was nearly Christmas, you were playing the piano for our carol singing rehearsal. A group of local children and their families had gathered at our house to practice. I was hopelessly excited. You tried to calm me down, told me to stop showing off, but I just got sillier. I started to make up my own nonsense words to Little Donkey. I got giddier by the second. I argued, you tried to plough on with the singing.
I remember the excitement of our stockings. When we were really small we each got a pair of your woolly tights, with tiny gifts wrapped in tissue paper stuffed all the way down each long leg.
I remember your delight at our letters to Father Christmas, which you kept safe in a box, neatly written letters written from us as small children, to the drunken scrawl of us two students back home for the holidays.
I remember you sent me to the primary school production in black knickers the day I had to wear a white snowflake costume.
I remember the doily and pipe cleaner angel I made at primary school which you were so proud of. L made one this week at school.
I remember dancing round the kitchen together, sipping Gin and Tonic, to a Blues Brother, Soul Sister CD.
L remembers pulling crackers with you.
I remember you singing Golden Slumbers to Mr G, your last Christmas, and his wriggly 2 year old body suddenly stopping completely still to listen.
Most of all mum I realise how much you did behind the scenes, to make Christmas magical. I sat in L’s first school carol concert, every bit the proud mum. Later on, I cajoled two overexcited, over tired children to bed, whilst answering question after question about Christmas. I think I caught a glimpse, just a little one, behind the scenes of my childhood.
The first year you weren’t here for Christmas, on Christmas Eve, me Dad and Mr A, we watched a TV drama/comedy, called Lapland, about a recently widowed woman, her children plus the grandchildren, who leave Birkenhead to spend Christmas in Lapland.
We all wondered if it was the right thing to watch, but there was all manner of healing in realising we weren’t the only family facing Christmas without someone. It was a beautiful British comedy and we found such comfort in watching a family a lost like us. I smiled at the ways they found to create new rituals and vowed that while I would always honour your Christmas rituals, I would also continue to look for new adventures and experiences.
(I didn’t realise until I previewed this post, but when you look at the photo I just took, in the top right, in the reflection in the mirror behind the angel, is my mum, amongst the people in our wedding photo).