The One About Christmas

Hey there! It’s good to see you here. My name is Lizzie, and I am the redhead who is always wondering! Wondering about life, about this beautiful world, about words and light and colour and form. And mostly about how I can be the best me that I can possibly be.

I am a creator of hand bound books and of art, in the form of cyanotypes and photographs. I am also an avid journal-keeper and I’d like to share some of my journal wonderings with you today ….

So, I’m Going to Talk About the C Word

As a small business owner, it appears that I have to start thinking about Christmas in July if I’m going to get all my ducks in a row for the festive season. (I kid you not, “Christmas in July” is an actual thing!) I also have to start marketing my Christmas wares on the 14th of September. According to the marketing gurus, this is the magic date that people start thinking about Christmas.

(Who are these people that start their Christmas shopping in September?! Because it’s certainly not me!!! September still counts as Summer as far as I’m concerned!)

So, I did, and I’ve been merrily talking about my journals and photograph albums for THIRTEEN weeks (at the time of publishing this blog!!) and telling people what amazing presents they would make!

Which they do!

I’m writing this very blog in one of my journals.

And honestly? With over 20 years of journaling under my belt, in my opinion, my journals ARE the best!! But I digress …

Doing All the Things

So, back to the C word … yes, I’m doing all the things one has to do as a small biz owner at this time of year, and I’m loving doing it.

Call me crazy (and there are some that do!), but I love writing social media posts, and creating images.

With glitter!

And snowflakes!!

So, I’m really happy to be doing all the things!

But on a personal level, I’m pretty ambivalent about Christmas. I am, I confess, a wee bit of a bah-humbugger. Not because I’m a Scrooge (I actually LOVE giving people presents), but because my childhood memories of Christmas are rather grim.

When Christmas Stopped Being About Chocolate

Those memories split very precisely into two very distinct time blocks …

First, there was the Christmases-before-I-was-ten-years-old Time, which honestly have kind of faded to glimpses of pillowcases full of presents at the end of the bed and the annual Selection boxes. I don’t remember much about the presents themselves. I remember a walking-talking doll, which perplexed me, as I was more of a tree-climbing tomboy, than a doll-dressing girl (I guess my mum was trying to convert me!).

My best present though was my portable typewriter. I LOVED that typewriter, and I carted that thing around with me for years!

We lived in a caravan, so there was no room for a Christmas tree, so paperchains made in Primary school were about it decorations-wise.

I don’t remember what sort of things we ate (apart from the Selection box chocolate bars); I don’t really remember what we did as a family, but I suspect a visit to my paternal grandparents happened at some point.

Then there came the Christmas when I was 10 years old. Eight days before Christmas, on his 42nd birthday, my dad died. He went to work. He never came home again.

And in the space of one day, my whole life changed.

How Can You Have Christmas Without Your Hero?

me and dad and the first, least dangerously high, tree swing
my dad in his running days

You see, my dad was my hero and losing him shifted the whole world on its axis. Nothing fit any more.

Who was going to climb trees and make me crazy-dangerous tree swings?

Who was going to entrance me with tales of his cross-country, long-distance running days, and his Paratrooper Regiment’s mascot, Pegasus the Pony??

Anyway, there’s such a lot that I could write about here, but I’m going to stick to the subject of the C word.

You can probably guess that Christmas was never the same for us as a family, or rather, as the shattered family we had become, with strongest part of our foundation gone. From I was ten until the time I left home, Christmas became a time for me to just “get through”.

There was never any pre-Christmas excitement, because that pre-Christmas period was the anniversary of his death, on his birthday, which plunged us, as a family unit, and as individuals, into some pretty dark places.

Christmas itself was simply a time to be endured, preferably with as few conversations and tears as possible.

There Were No Words

As a child and young adult, it was very hard for me to articulate the myriad emotions that the festive time of year evoked in me. Loss, pain, anger, jealousy. Definitely no joy. So, I just developed an I-Hate-Christmas armour. I went full-on moody anti-Christmas teenager!

Then as I got a little older, I would disguise those feelings of pain and loss that Christmas brought up for me, by attacking the commercialism of it all, the waste, the stupidity.

And Then I Became Santa Claus

And that was my default Christmas setting for years.

Until, in my 30s, I had a child.

By the time my boy was old enough to understand what Christmas was all about (and by that, I mean … presents and chocolate!), I was a single parent, which was okay by me … I got to be mum, dad AND Santa Claus!!

my son opening Christmas presents
no idea why there is loo roll under the tree

So, for several years, I was able to truly love Christmas, because it was my job to make it magical for my son.

And it was! Magical, I mean!

Even though I didn’t have much money, I made our home beautiful, with a real tree and lots of holly we cut ourselves, home-made decorations and twinkly lights. I scrimped and saved to make sure he had lots of presents to open, and we made our own traditions of opening presents in front of a roaring fire and eating chocolate for breakfast!

Thanks to my son, I was able at last to really love Christmas. It hurt me a lot more than it hurt him, when he learned the truth about Santa Claus.

I cried. He didn’t.

And I kept on being Santa for several years anyway, leaving him a big sack of present by the tree, until he became too cool for such things and wanted money and book tokens!

Back to Bah-Humbuggery

Nowadays I’m married to the most amazing man, who is just about as un-Christmassy as they come! And that suits me just fine! For me, the best thing about Christmas is getting time off from my day-job, and of course the getting and giving of nice presents.

Even through the happy Santa-days of my son’s childhood, there was always a spectre at the feast. There was always something … someone … missing. I kind of think that the child in me, the one who could believe in Santa and magic, died the day my dad died. And the hum-bugger took up residence.

New Traditions

long Christmas Day shadows on Salisbury Plain

So now, Christmas day looks like this …

get up late, give and receive gifts, drink tea (possibly eat chocolate, because that’s just how I roll).

Then there’s a trip to Salisbury Plain to take photographs, while the rest of the population does crazy stuff with turkeys and crackers!

Then home to pepperoni pizza and chips, followed by Vienetta … yes, I know! Doesn’t that just sound like the BEST Christmas dinner ever?!!

All straight from the freezer, no prep work, no fuss, just delicious treats that we deny ourselves all year!!! (Because of the perpetual “we should be eating healthy food at our age” crap that comes with middle age!).

This perfect day is rounded off with a movie, usually a rom com we’ve already watched a gazillion times, and I’m in bed by about ten o’clock.

Perfect. In every way!

And I get to forget all about Christmas for another year!

Until July … when apparently, because I’m now a small business owner, it will all start again!!!

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