It’s that time of year now where everyone is looking forward to Christmas. The most recent of traditions, the John Lewis advert has hit social media in a big way and now everyone is counting down the shopping days until that frenzy of present giving. Such a recent tradition that I even remember the first show-stopping John Lewis ad that started it all, it was the snowman trekking to the shop to get his snowoman some winter warmers. That was the year that Megan and I shared our first Christmas.
I wanted to spend as much time at home over the holidays as possible. I didn’t book any time off over the Christmas holidays, instead I’d managed to negotiate with my team leader that I could work from home. Working from home over Christmas when the work is slow basically consists of making sure you’re ‘Available’ on the corporate instant messenger and waiting for the email from the director informing everyone that they can go home early.
I want to say that I remember our first (and only) Christmas together perfectly. Unfortunately I don’t. So much seemed to be happening all at the same time. Megan’s disappointment with the job hunting, my Nan’s death, getting used to a new job at work and hearing the news that I was going to be an aunty for the first time. Everything has begun to blur together and the way I remember things has become a little disjointed over time.
Megan and I carried on preparing for Christmas by spending as much time together and with each others families as possible. It was fun getting to know everyone. I got on well with her parents, her older sister and her nephew. Although I think the first time I went out for dinner with Megan’s family was a slightly odd and potentially awkward situation.
It was dinner out to celebrate what would have been the 30th birthday of Megan’s sister, who had tragically died many years before and far too young. The idea seemed odd to me, however never having experienced any such tragedy and the far-reaching impacts that might have on a family I couldn’t judge them for it.
Megan never seemed to mind talking about her sister and how she remembered her. She also didn’t mind telling people about how it had effected her and the relationship with her mother in particular. Megan claimed that her mum blamed her for her sisters death, since it was her that had discovered her in her room. I found that incredulous and couldn’t comment one way or another on it.
Every time I had seen Megan with her parents it couldn’t be clearer that they loved her very much. Megan once tried to explain that her mum had blurted it out during grief counselling. That she thought if she had been the one to discover her daughter she might have been able to do something to save her. I thought that was a very different sentiment.
Having heard all this I was apprehensive about the evening they had all planned and what the atmosphere might be like. However it seemed most like a chance for the whole family to get together and less about focussing on something so tragic and sad. It was a relief. We had gone to dinner at a village pub and the only moment I remember that really signified that we were there to remember was when the waitress had asked if we were celebrating something and Megan’s Dad had said yes.
That was the night that truly introduced me to the family and really made me a part of it all. There was no doubt that I’d be about during Christmas and New Year. We were excited to be spending the holidays together, we wanted to start making our own traditions, decorate a tree or two together, take dorky photos and play outside in the cold, crisp winter days.
We certainly made the most of every moment we could together. We went shopping for a tree for Megan to keep in her room, we decked it out with pretty decorations that we bought together. We enjoyed going shopping together, wandering around the busy market in Bath or the outlet shops in Street. We went out walking her family’s dog Penny in the woods, I’m not so good with mud and almost ended up stuck in it once or twice. We even went out to Bath Cats and Dogs Home to walk some of the dogs there too when we had free weekends.
We went ice-skating and I was awful (especially compared to how well I can skate now) but it was good fun and we laughed a lot. We even did the sickeningly cheesy thing of buying matching Christmas jumpers to wear on Christmas Day when we’d open our presents together. I remember posing for a photo with Megan in her room in front of the tree we had put together ourselves.
In all my life up to this point I didn’t think I had ever been as happy as I had been in those days and months. Life just seemed to have all fallen into place and be ticking along perfectly. I could see exactly how I thought my future would pan out and Megan was in almost every part of it. We seemed to want all the same things and had already been so supportive of each other. I had even began to think this could be it, I was so sure I started thinking about what it might be like to one day marry this girl.
Megan was easy to buy for when it came to Christmas presents. I know I’m a bit more difficult to shop for, I already had everything I wanted. I’m ultimately a sentimental person and possessions don’t really mean too much to me. If I need something I buy it and if I want something I usually talk myself out of it and forget about it. The question I dread most in the run up to Christmas is ‘What do you want for Christmas?’
Although to quote Dumbledore, you can never have too many socks. I’d be happy enough with that and I’m quite fond of the golf-style pattern for some strange reason. Anyway, we swapped presents at Megan’s house in the morning. Christmas with my family was going to be a little more of a struggle.
My brother and sister-in-law had suffered the horrific news that they had miscarried and due to the Christmas holidays it put a black cloud over everything and disgustingly meant that my sister-in-law couldn’t be seen by the healthcare professionals required. It really dragged out the whole affair. We had all been so excited for them, and when they had been so close to three months too.
But Christmas is a magical time, and even through all the struggles life throws at you it was still a Christmas where all the family came together and enjoyed the day as best as we could with each other. I don’t think I’d ever want to have a Christmas without my family. Just the year before I had been the black-cloud hanging over the Christmas holidays as Lara and I went through that awful break up, this time it was a much worse saga.
Yet we all get through it together and even manage to enjoy it. We’re troopers like that. Just imagine what fun we have when everything works out right. The magic of Christmas was there in just being there for each other. Whether it was being there for my Mum as she struggled with the grief of losing her Mum and our Nan, being there for my brother and his wife or just making sure that even through it all that Megan and I still managed to have an amazing first Christmas. I don’t know a time of year, other than Christmas that can bring people together and through hard times like that.
All my Christmases will always be magical, even the hard ones.