First Christmas

Christmas is coming, which is true right now, but also true for the time that I’m remembering way back in 2007. It was going to be the first Christmas for Lara and I. During the run up to Christmas I think we were both excited about having our first Christmas together.

I’ve always enjoyed Christmas, guess I was a spoiled child that didn’t want for anything and Christmas was a time when I’d be with family and enjoying the exchange of gifts. As I’ve gotten older I seem to enjoy giving gifts more than receiving them. It has even gotten to a point where receiving gifts can be a hassle, all this new stuff and trying to find a place to put it all!

I celebrate Christmas because I’ve grown up doing that, I’m not religious at all. Faith means something different to me. I like that it’s a time of year where everyone makes time for each other, you go out of your way to see friends and relatives, eat too much, laugh a lot, snuggle up and watch cheesy films. For a number of years we’d spent Christmas as a small family unit, the four of us year in, year out.

This was one of the years when it wouldn’t be just my immediate family, I’d be spending it with my Aunty’s family. It was great spending the time with my Aunty’s family one of my cousins has young kids that enjoy it so much that you can’t help but enjoy yourself. The rest of us just use it as an excuse to overindulge and take part in relentless family banter. You don’t stand a chance in our family if you can’t keep up with a little sharp wit, and you sometimes need to be thick-skinned.

Lara would be spending her morning between her parents houses, typically the morning at her Dad’s with her step-family and then have Christmas dinner with her Mum, Step-Dad and Sister. Would you believe that I can’t even remember what I got Lara for Christmas that year, other than a pair of expensive white gold earrings that I think she lost a few months later? I remember so clearly one of the gifts that she’d gotten me, it was an electric guitar, a black fender one.

While I was busy Christmas shopping for my family Lara had been busy securing a new job. Despite her promotion at the supermarket she didn’t enjoy it there, earlier in the year she’d completed a lifeguarding qualification. I think her Dad had paid for the course which she completed at a holiday resort not too far from our town, but she never pursued the career at the end of it. It wasn’t until our local sports centre was hiring that she put herself forward for it.

I helped her with her application and prep for her interview and I got the impression that she sailed into the role. It was a full time position right on her doorstep with much better hours than she had to put up with at the supermarket. Before she took this job it was rare for her to get a full weekend away from work, now she’d have every other weekend off. She’d be starting the new job shortly before Christmas and I know she was nervous about it, I kept telling her that it wasn’t anything to worry about and that she’d soon be getting on just fine.

I was quite happy in my job at the time, the team I was with got to work behind the scenes fixing customer issues on a larger scale. For the period of approximately a year I didn’t have to speak to anyone but a telecoms engineer on the phone. I was plodding along quite nicely, I enjoyed that I was able to learn more and more about networking and telecoms and felt that I had some kind of future there.

It didn’t escape my notice that the office was going through a drastic period of change, we were on our second office manager since I had been working there, and this one had been sent over on a temporary basis from another office. There was a lot of speculation about how much longer they’d be keeping our office open since we were inherited from a much smaller company, the general consensus was that once they had learned how to support broadband services from us they’d teach agents that would do the job for less in other locations and shut us down.

It was going to be a quiet Christmas for us, pretty uneventful really. It was a time for family, a time spent with Lara, neither of us had any time away from work. I encouraged Lara to go to her Christmas party at her new job, it would be a great way for her to get to know her new colleagues, while I refused to go to my own Christmas do. I was more than happy to sit at home reading a good book in my spare time, there were many times when Lara would be ignored for the latest Harry Potter release.

When Christmas came I have to admit I can’t remember that we had any relationship troubles. At the time I certainly wasn’t worried or have any insecurities, they wouldn’t come until much later down the line. I didn’t pick up on any suspicious behaviour, I don’t even think there was any at the time. All I know now is that there was a snake in the grass, one I wasn’t paying any attention to. If anything was going on at that time I was blissfully unaware, for a time I thought my life was perfect.

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