This Christmas, I received some devastating news – that a close relative had passed away. One of the hardest obstacles in parenting is having to parent when you absolutely do not feel like parenting. And on Christmas day, this is even more so. I learned a lot this Christmas, on how to enjoy something and put on a brave face when all you want to do is crumble. The lesson on how to be a pillar when all you want to be is the floor.
Our Christmas Day started out like all others, so much fun and excitement! I was awake at 6am, waiting for the sound of Princess’s bedroom door opening and her feet scurrying up the hallway and into the lounge. She woke at 6:30, ran down the hallway and screamed, “OH MY GOSH MUM AND DAD AND BOYCHILD AND BABYGIRL GET UP SANTA HAS BEEN OH MY GOSH SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE”.
BoyChild, bless him, crawled into bed next to Mr T and called out, “Princess! Go back to sleep!”.
Princess wasn’t having it, and so within ten minutes we were all in the living room, Mr T and I sleepily sipping coffee while watching chaos ensue.
Lot’s of “OH WOW” and “OH MY GOODNESS” and “OHHHHHHHH COOOOOL”. It was a fantastic, special time!
Sure enough, by 8:00am, all the presents were open and the kids were happily playing in their respective corners. Mr T went back to bed due to having a mild case of ManFlu and I sat down to relax.
And then the phone rang.
Losing a loved one on any day is a shock. Losing a loved one on Christmas day is something else altogether. The conversation was along the lines of, “I hope you are having a lovely Christmas, however … “. I hung up the phone and went into our bedroom and cried. I cried so much that poor Mr T had no idea what was wrong. I got it out eventually, and we just held each other and I cried some more. Thank heavens the kids were too engrossed in their new toys to follow me into the bedroom.
I got up and had a shower, all of my Christmas energy drained from me in an instant. Why did I have a shower? I don’t know if you realise, but a shower is an ideal place to cry. When you have kids, you don’t want to cry too much in front of them, because it can be quite distressing. So I shower when I need a really good cry.
When I got out of the shower, I sat on my bed and gathered myself. This was, first and foremost, Christmas Day for the kids, and we needed to make sure the kids would still get their day.
We told Princess what had happened, because she would no doubt have caught on to the mood of the day anyway. She is very matter-of-fact about death, she talks about it freely and often refers to her “old, old nana” (her great-nan) who passed away a few years ago. She says, quite simply, that when people die, they become stars. I love that description.
As family gathered at our house (as we had planned anyway), there was a mixed mood of sombre tones and Christmas celebrations.
There were parts throughout the day where even us grown-ups would get caught up in the fun celebration and forget, momentarily, the cloud that was hanging above us. And then we would remember, and the walls would crumble once more. Planning a funeral on Christmas Day is not something I ever want to be a part of, and I have the utmost sympathies for my family members who had that responsibility.
And so we went on. We gave the kids the Christmas we had been building up towards for weeks and weeks, while carrying a heavy weight of grief on the inside.
Once the kids were tucked happily into bed that night, cuddling their new toys, tummies filled up with great food and, more realistically, lots upon lots of lollies and chocolate (I’m pretty confident that that is ALL BoyChild ate) and dreaming of their wonderful day, I sat down and let it all become me.
I put my feet up, I sat with a cup of tea, and I reflected. I didn’t cry, but I just sat.
I’m off to the funeral in a few days, so I’ve got the next few days to keep myself busy with the post-Christmas clean up. The house is nearly back to it’s normal chaotic state (as opposed to the mega chaos of Christmas Day) and the kids are getting back into their regular routine. And still, as with each passing day, I find myself forgetting once more and getting on with the day. And then, remembering, and finding myself getting overwhelmed with the emotion of it.
Princess and BoyChild say they had an awesome Christmas Day, which is heart warming. And I hope their next Christmas is just as grand. Even though, from hereon in, Christmas Day will, for our family, always be a double edged sword.