I suppose that this is the time of year everyone finds themselves thinking back and remembering the Christmases they have loved the best. I have one huge problem with that, no matter how hard I try, the good memories of Christmas are severally limited. No I am not looking for anyone to feel sorry for me, there is nothing to feel sorry for, it’s just my enduring memories of Christmas is one huge disappointment. The first Christmas I really remember was when I was 10 and I received a grown up bike of my own, not a hand me down from my sister or one of my cousins, it was mine. It wasn’t until much later I discovered it was second hand and my father had repainted it, my family had more money than they knew what to do with, but new wasn’t a word they ever seemed to have discovered, even hand me downs had already had another life in someone else’s family. What I remembered most about that day, isn’t the excitement of getting a bike, it was the fact I was allowed to take it across the road to the park and to ride around for one whole hour. I wasn’t stuck in the house with the rest of them, all sitting around pretending they were delighted with the stuff that was now just lying on the floor, or fighting over what my Mother had chosen for me to wear that day, usually something horrid I didn’t want to even put on, but was forced into, which of course put a downer on the rest of my day. I had an hour, out in the cold, riding around the park along with all the other kids who had also received a bike. Christmas as a child seemed to have a set of rules that were never broken, the personal joy of my stocking, personal as we weren’t allowed out of our rooms until my parents said, so no one shared that time, that was ours, just the kids each exploring in their own space what had been left for them. Then the main presents, all other than the bike, long forgotten, then the fight over clothes, followed by the boredom of Grandpa house, with our one item each we were allowed to take with us and after the food, more boredom until we were eventually allowed to go home. Weeks spent hoping that that Christmas was going to have the magic I craved, for it to always turn out to be a damp squid.
It wasn’t actually until Adam and I moved in here, that I was at last in the position where I could try and truly fix Christmas. I did try when Teresa and Christopher were small, but I never really had the chance to do it the way I truly wanted, we always had to brake up the whole Christmas magic, by heading hundreds of miles to visit families, families who when asked wouldn’t make the journey to us. I wanted Adam and my Christmases to always have the magic I never found anywhere before, so each year I planned through out the months and bought through them as well, gifts had to be right, wrapped and decorated like those you see in magazines, not just a silly little bow, but beads, flowers and glitter, a present that sat and beguiled almost too beautiful to open. The house had to be decorated with an extravagance and opulence I had only ever seen in the movies, nothing was impossible and everything had to be beyond perfect. Three trees, one in each main area, hallway to welcome, kitchen to make you smile and living room to enchant. Lights, beads and garlands, cascading from every mirror, surface and wall space I could manage and all of it done over and over until it was just right. Three days of work, just to get the basics, right and hours of tweaking when ever I noticed anything not quite right, what it all cost in the end, I haven’t the slightest idea, but all I will say it thank you Ebay, I couldn’t have done it without you. Christmas day started with buck-fizz and a full English breakfast, then presents to open, done slowly to keep the intrigue for as long as possible. Our first Christmases were spent at Adam’s Mum’s home but once she left Glasgow, Christmas came home and our day was spent together other than a visit to his Grandmother, but as my health failed Adam would go alone, but our evening were spent together and that was when we tucked into a meal that had nothing but the best I could buy and could cook, Christmas was at last just right.
It’s been three years now since the last time the tree’s came out, or the decorations found their way out of their storage positions around the house, longer since we bought gifts or even sent cards out in huge numbers. Even the last Christmas I tried to make work and Adam took on doing most of the physical work and my decorations diminished to just this room, they felt somehow muted, not complete and much of their magic had gone. They just weren’t right and all the tweaking in the world wasn’t going to make them so, I didn’t have the energy or dexterity required to make Christmas shine. That whole Christmas season had a dampened feeling about it, I could get it to shift and I could find the slightest sparkle, not even from the tinsel and lights, they too seemed muted and dulled by the lose of all their friends. Every year I had bought new decorations to add to our display, to make our home just that tiny bit brighter and better, every year I had been building our future Christmases, there was a final goal one that I thought wasn’t just years a head, but decades and suddenly, that future was gone. The one tree, the garlands on the fireplace and the lights and beads spread around, were only a reminder of what was missing, not a joy as they once were.
I used to believe that it was my health that had stolen my Christmas, that it had destroyed what I had spent so many years longing for, like so many other things in life, I had a taste, a window of when things were perfect and life was working the way I felt it should. In so many ways, Christmas was the last thing that I had held onto, well into being housebound and even past being made redundant, but like almost everything else, it too was gone. Of course my health has played a huge role, the lack of energy means I will never be able to spend days doing something, just to be there for a month then a day of madness taking them down and packing them away for another year, but it’s more than just that. I grew up, I grew up and realised that the dream of Christmas is just that, it’s a dream and no matter how hard we try, dreams of that nature never can come true. I can no more step into Narnia, as I can create the image that is in my head and then make it live. I would say that is one of the things that my health has taught me, along with the real meaning of life and how important that life really is, it has taught me that no matter what our dreams are, we can only make them real if they are humanly possible, if their not, all we do is create a mirage and mirages don’t last.
I am a long way from thanking my health for making me see just how silly I was being about one time of year, but I will thank it for showing me that just spending a day with someone you love, yes with a few nice edible treats, can be as good or even better than a day you have spent weeks stressing about, that you land up so ill on the actual day, that it’s hard to be part of it. There may be no decoration, but it will still be Christmas.
Read my blog from 2 years ago today – 17/12/12 – Tomorrows reality