(If you’re wondering what’s happened here, Steve the dog is in the sink dressed as a reindeer, and my Dad found a huge icicle outside and is trying poke the dog in the ass with it.) – Christmas 2010, the last normal one.
I wasn’t always a scrooge, in fact I used to be the one up at 5am on Christmas Day and getting excited in October.
This year I would give ANYTHING for it to be January already.
So this time two years ago, I was booking tickets for the whole family to see The Nutcracker in London, I was probably doing early Christmas shopping and celebrating a pre-Christmas with my uni girls. Everything was great.
Then just before Christmas 2012 my Dad went into hospital for keyhole surgery to remove what we thought was adhesions – these are lumps of scar tissue from previous surgery.
I remember being at my Auntie and Uncle’s waiting for the news and thinking it was fantastic when we were told he was only in surgery for an hour and a half – standard keyhole surgery. We were ready for a happy family Christmas.
I drove home the next morning expecting to have some great news, I got back and sat at the kitchen table with my Mother and Sister. The phone rang.
I can still to this day remember the wave of sick and cold that ran through me when my Mother came back through from answering the phone to tell us that they weren’t adhesions, they were tumours, and there’s nothing more they can do. I screamed and screamed, I couldn’t even get the pain out of me, the heart ache, I’ve never ever felt pain like it.
So he came home, the look in his eyes when he got back was like nothing I could describe. Having to try and give your own father hope when there’s nothing anyone can do, and they are used to being the one to support you, how can you even begin?
I think I remember sitting outside with him, that same day, and telling him I’ll miss him. That’s not a normal conversation, I never wanted to have that conversation. I still look at photos now and think “I don’t understand that your physical being is no longer on this earth”. I looked at a photo earlier, at his arthritic, bent, fingers, and my own mind cannot actually process that those hands no longer exist.
So the reason I hate Christmas? Because you have this whole pretence of FAMILY rammed down your neck. No one considers that some people don’t have family, some people might be completely alone, some people might feel lost or full of pain around this time of year and don’t want to sit and watch a group of actors pretend to be a family to encourage us to spend thousands in John Lewis in October.
Yes I might find the advert very sweet, but do you know what? The only part of that bloody advert I can relate to is the penguin. The sad, loneliness and heartache.
Christmas Day is the day my Daddy gave up.
He came downstairs, and it was already weird because Mum was carving the turkey, that wasn’t her job, that’s what Dad did. But he was too weak.
He sat down, we all sat down, we had homemade crackers, the tree looked beautiful, music on. He just looked at us all and said “I can’t do this”, and went upstairs.
He stayed there until April 14th 2013, when he died.
I honestly couldn’t describe how much that moment is imprinted on me, the fear, the pain, the unknowing and most of all the knowing.
I just cried and cried.
That was my Christmas dinner. I almost can’t remember what it was like to have a normal Christmas, I remember I used to love them, but I can’t remember what it’s like to have family or to feel love. I know that sounds pathetic but it’s brutally honest.
You know that feeling when people ask you what you’re doing for your birthday, or for NYE and you get a slight panic because you haven’t got anything planned and you don’t want to feel stupid? That’s what I have about Christmas. I don’t want the awkward “Are you excited for Christmas?!” and then have to either go along with some false story of excitement or try and explain the ridiculously long story of HELL NO I’D RATHER DIE, CAN WE HAVE JANUARY NOW PLEASE.
So the moral of the story is, if you’re lucky enough to have a normal, family filled Christmas this year, embrace it. You never know when it could be the last, you never know what’s round the corner, and most of all, take a moment to think of others who aren’t as lucky as yourself.
We never did make it to the Nutcracker.