My thoughts on Christmas time
The Christmas period has always been a significant family celebration in my family. I love it. Cosy hissing and crackling as logs burn and tumble; the spicy warmth of a rich mulled wine and mince pies; the gaudy gleam of Christmas trees, laden with a vibrant and shiny array of decorations and the smell of oranges, their skins bursting open with tiny cloves.
I have never grown out of the excitement of Christmas and I was lucky enough to have a close-knit family who got together every year without fail. I can recall with great clarity the surge of excitement in the pit of my stomach as we would either drive to my Aunt and Uncle’s house for Christmas, or they would come to us. Including my cousins on my mum’s side, there were five of us, all fairly close in age and all extremely over excited by the fact that it was Christmas Eve and the big festive party was starting.
There was always a feast of food, lots of music and a great deal of laughter from the moment we all met up.
With great fondness I remember the squeal of excitement on Christmas Eve as the five of us children were thrown together and within minutes getting up to no good, ransacking the place with imaginative games. Perhaps one of the prominent memories is what was our take on a ‘Narnia’ performance. This was an annual event and one that marked the crescendo of Christmas festivities for us kids. I can’t imagine that the adults were that enthralled by the production but they patiently sat through it each and every year. My Grandparents certainly deserve a mention here as I think we had the most patient and kind Grandmother we could have hoped for. I remember her demurely sipping at a snowball before making us all a Christmas Bournvita hot chocolate before bed. Her hair was a brilliant snow white and her eyes had the loveliest twinkle. I can’t begin to express how much I loved my Grandparents and my grandmother was very much like a second mother to us.
After many a spirited game or jolly japes that would often have her running up the staircase exclaiming, ‘By gum, you kids will get wrong if your mam and dad come up.” we’d drift off into excited light slumbers, only to wake to the hushed whispered panic of which stocking each of our parents had put the presents in.
Despite the frenzy of excitement that would mean we were all awake checking stockings at the unearthly hour of 5am, it was the simple things that mattered. Being together as a family, the merry sound of laughter, the chink of full glasses, being around the Christmas table together and of course, the annual Christmas performance that had somehow become tradition. Christmas in my family was about belonging to people and being loved by our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings and cousins.
For me, Christmas is all about love. As an adult I now enjoy nothing more than hosting Christmas or spending it at my parents’ house. Every bit of effort I put into Christmas is all born from love for people dear to me. I can understand now that the reason why we had such a good Christmas every year was because there was so much love given to us. From the signature marzipan fruits that my Auntie made, the plates of carrots and whisky glasses we were allowed to leave for Santa, to the tree that we were allowed to help decorate and the patience that our parents conveyed as they watched yet another Narnia performance by five over excited kids, there was thoughtfulness in all of those gestures.
I think what I’m saying in a round about way is that when you scratch through the gloss of the Christmas parties, festivities, gifts and dazzling decorations, you find that the effort put into it all is all driven by love. In my mind, that’s a significant part of what Christmas is all about, showing people love and making them feel valued and special.
My debut novel, ‘The Wishing House’ is all about love too. It’s the darker side of love – the side that can be born from obsession, jealousy and deception. To me, love is a fascinating emotion that can come in all manner of guises. Whilst I embraced the murkier and twisted side of love to write a chilling ghost story, I embraced the more positive side of it this Christmas, making it as special as I could for my little girl, guests and spending treasured time with just my immediate family too. This Christmas, I would like to think that I was able to give to others as much as I used to get out of my parents’, grandparents’ and aunts’ and uncles’ efforts at this time of year.
I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and here’s to a very Happy New Year everyone. xxxxxxx