I always like to be ahead of the game apparently. Couldn’t wait for the post climatic slide through January and February’s sludgy weather and skies to feel the cloying weight of bleurgh-ness. Can’t-be-arsed-ness. Bereft-of-f*cks-ness.
Today marks three months since the day RD left us. And in a cruel twist of life, it falls on a Monday again. I don’t like the fifth of the month- naff off Guy Fawkes, and I appear to have fallen like a Boomtown Rat, because Mondays are pretty much unlikeable. And that’s even when I get to palm DD off at nursery.
But really its the bigger thing that sits round the corner. That the shops start playing the tunes for in September. That as a retail buyer is on my mind in January. That some buggers now start putting their trees up in November for. I can’t even refer to it as the C word as that understandably has other connotations. So here it is: Christmas. The Carbuncle on my horizon. My social media feed full of anticipation, excitement and seemingly competitive edge for who can be more Christmassy.
We learnt six years ago, when there was zero chance my October born son was going to make it home from hospital for Christmas, to drastically change our expectations for the day. To stop throwing so much hope and anticipation its way. Because you know, its just another day, right? And yet I wanted Christmas to wrap me up and hug me with its promise of warmth, joy and goodwill to all men. Envelop me in the fug of too much food, booze, Quality Street and brussel sprout farts.
For four years of RD’s life we spent Christmas in or hovering around the hospital, with his fondness for using that time to throw in a bastard of a festive bug. So we stopped planning fun, tree decorating. Anything too jolly, as it felt ominous. Like we were jumping the gun. But I tell you something, RD caned it on the present front in those years. And they say there’s no connection…
But that was the other thing. He had no idea Christmas was a coming. He wasn’t making demands for a Hatchimal or a Cabbage Patch Doll. Writing a letter to Santa. Even show any interest in trimming the tree. He was always pleased to receive a new annoying plastic, bright, noisy toy. But we had to shift our focus on what eyes he saw Christmas through. On the other hand, DD has been asking since February when Father Christmas is coming.
But in the last few years, we have had the perfect storm of a Christmas. DD and her bright exuberance for everything Christmas related EVER, bar sprouts. RD got his Scooot. For the first time, aged four, we could suddenly understand what he wanted for Christmas as he mastered his mobility and showed us what he could enjoy. He shook and rustled the tree branches, giggling as ornaments rattled and fell. Turned them over and over in his hands. Ran his fingers through the fir pines. Push himself to the front of the TV to watch the Christmas films. And I mean right at the front, so the pixels burned his eyes. Rush round on Christmas morning stealing his cousins plastic, bright, noisy toys from their piles, their clutches. Messing with the bottles of booze stacked up, rattling the corkscrew. Crunching and tossing aside piles of wrapping paper. Hiding and weaving in and out our legs at the dinner table. And his health gave him some respite.
The magic was back, but better. Clearer after the storms. This was RD’s Christmas, and we had had to learn gratitude for the new normality. I wish I could zoom back a year, tell myself, “Hey, slow down. Take this all in. Breathe deep.” But who knows, I probably thought I was. In amongst pregnancy after loss, working and day to day everythings.
This year. This December. I want to rush round and pull back some of that. Decorate the house to an inch of its life. Foster DD’s enthusiasm, even though I wonder how much this confuses her too. The ever aching void of life without him. Fill it with tinsel and tat. But every twinkling light, every brass band, every handmade ornament from previous years, every pair of Christmas pyjamas hurts my eyes. Because they mark his absence.
And no, I will never get a frigging Elf on a Shelf*
*Unless DD demands it, as I bend to her wont