I am not really looking forward to Christmas very much this year. Having lost my Mum only 8 weeks ago (though I have to admit that it feels so much longer ago) I know that this year will feel very strange for all of us. Even writing cards the other day had me in tears when I came to writing one for my Dad......just my Dad. I host Christmas lunch every year and have done for the last 18 years. This year I shall move round all the dining room furniture, seat us all in different positions from the 'traditional' seating plan, anything to try and soften the blow of Mum's place being empty. So Christmas isn't a time that I am relishing the idea of this year.
But my youngest daughter and I have decorated our home today with the Christmas trimmings, the tree is donned in its colour co-ordinated baubles, the fireplace decked with the festive swag and candles and the read-berried shrub by the side of my front door is festooned with a myriad of tiny fairy lights timed to perfection to come on at dusk.
This is an annual event, usually the second weekend of December, the rummaging and rustling in boxes from the loft patiently brought down by my husband and carefully returned empty until the beginning of January, when I am so very grateful to get rid of them and return to the normality and welcome sparseness of an uncluttered lounge!
My tree is decorated with a wonderful mixture of old favourites, ornate memories that are dangled with love each year and a selection of carefully selected pieces that reflect my current colour scheme. Oh I know I know, Christmas trees should be a jangle of colour and an odd mish-mash of colours and shapes, I admit it......I am a Christmas tree snob, always grateful when the classroom made offerings finally disintegrated or became too 'embarrassing' for my girls to want on the tree any longer. But I love decorating my tree and my youngest has always been the one who has enjoyed helping.
Not every year, but many since they were small, I have bought my girls a bauble each and marked it with their name and the year of the particular Christmas. These have been used every year and I have told them that when they finally leave and have homes and trees of their own, they can have the decorations that are theirs, taking a little piece of their home and childhood with them. So as we have decorated this year we have smiled and looked at the names and years inscribed on some of the ornaments and treasured the memories that some of them have conjured.