There’s nothing like losing your child to make you think about the real meaning of a winter festival of light and renewal. I’m not Christian, in fact, I’m not really sure if I’m anything, but not even a year that has played out like a Victorian morality tale of fallen women and divine retribution can make me connect with the tale I grew up with as the meaning of Christmas. If anything, all this year can really make me see is that when fate causes terrible things to happen, people look for meaning and reason, and normally people have enough skeletons in the closet to come to the conclusion it is punishment. I can’t make myself believe in an Old Testament god who punishes any more than a New Testament one who gave up his son for the greater good and to show people there was meaning in love. After all, to be blooming honest, I’m not sure I’ve got a lot of time for anything built on bigging up giving up an only son for the good of humanity. God got his son back, after all, after 30 years or so.
There goes any chance of getting into heaven.
Christmas was just so different for me, for us, this year. Max and I are not people who feel the need for lavish presents anyway but, asking each other what we wanted, the unspoken look that went between us was that it really wasn’t anything you could order from Amazon. In fact, Christmas Day itself would have bought the end of yet another month of hope, except that I cheated with a couple of progesterone tabs to stave off the inevitable. The girls had had holidays as early present and knew there would be no massive gifts and we’d all talked a lot about having time together and small gifts we’d use together.
I was so worried the day would be dreadful and so we went out of our way to avoid the flash points. I avoided looking at the 4 stockings, we didn’t heap up parcels and we didn’t arrange to see anyone. And in the end, because I’d been worried sick about it, the day was lovely.
Josie carried monkey with her all day; he was a very welcome addition to the proceedings for me anyway.
And Father Christmas left Lego, which has had lots of play already.
We’ve sat and done kits together, which I loved; I don’t often get to do things like that, I tend to leave it to Max or for them, but I loved making a bakery set with the little ones.
FC also filled stockings with Hexbugs, Club Penguin memberships and a few family films, so that all went down well.
Amelie was over-joyed with a PlayMobile gym
and between that and a Strawberry Shortcake cafe for Josie, some wooden building blocks and a (completely ridiculous) Nintendog toy, they were both very happy. Josie was on ordinary rations of presents, not having had a holiday.
Mostly we’ve just eaten nice but sensible meals, snuggled up for films and curled up together. My heart broke a bit one Xmas Day when Amelie and Maddy both rather clumsily tried to express that it felt like someone was missing from the day; I never know what to say. I think they wanted to comfort me into knowing that Freddie wasn’t forgotten but didn’t know if saying his name would upset me. And then I’m not sure if they mean him or someone else (Maddy told me the other day that only losing the rabbit had really upset her) so I don’t want to presume and say “yes I miss Freddie too” if that isn’t what they mean.
I need to work out a way of having him acknowledge in the house; I think they feel he is best not mentioned, but like me, they need to say his name.
I think this quote, much written on blogs I read recently, is the thing that should be handed on a card to the friends of any woman who ends a pregnancy without a baby to love and nurture.
â€œIf you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody whoâ€™s important to them, and youâ€™re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didnâ€™t forget they died. Youâ€™re not reminding them. What youâ€™re reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and thatâ€™s a great, great gift. â€“ Elizabeth Edwards
Life now is divided into Before Freddie and After Freddie. I like to hear his name spoken, I like to see it written, I liked the one card I got this year with his name written into it. I didn’t send any because I knew I couldn’t bear to write them and not write his name.
It is a thing indeed to walk through a day that is about joy and love and family and life and do it without the child who should be making the most mess, or at least be the reason everyone else had to keep their toys off the floor. I did it, with the brittlest of smiles and the greatest of effort, because it would do him not credit to do otherwise and because actually, in the end, the girls we have made the day wonderful and special and good. We all took care of each other, we all made allowances for each other and we all took the time to relish the gifts we’d chosen for each other. It worked. If you try hard enough, you can sometimes make things be as they should be.
In some respects, I think it was the best Christmas we’ve ever had 🙂 I think we have Freddie to thank for that. In some respects, I think this is the best year I have ever had – and I really mean that.
One of the things I loved the most was that Fran really bought into several aspects of being one of the grown up sides to a family Xmas this year (if you follow me) and went out of her way to indulge the younger ones in the magic. It was very lovely to watch; the other thing which was lovely as that this year she organised her own gifts and designed us all t-shirts, which she then went into work and had printed up by a person with a unit there, following it through from concept to finished product. She learned lots (she’s going to blog it) but I just loved how excited she was about giving them to us 🙂
Lastly, in the spirit of how Christmas was this year, this is a present that was bought with various family contributions. Maddy had long wanted a marble run and we were able to get a joint family present of this Quadrilla set – there has been hours of fun with it already.
I wish I could write eloquently and philosophically about how this Christmas was. I can’t really. I want to write about how missed Freddie was and then I don’t want to seem to be dwelling. We had, in the end, a lovely time together. We’re closer, we enjoyed the company we all are, we did the things we always do and we had a beautiful, loving family Christmas for 6. It’s just that it should have been for 7. The girls made it great and Max and I worked hard at letting them do that. I worked hard at not crying and being the strongest mummy I could be. We were one down this year – and all I can really think is that we always will be and that I at least, have got to grit my teeth through every Christmas forever onwards.
Christmas is about causing joy, I suppose, and sometimes you can do that with gifts. I think the girls loved that their gifts were chosen with thought and care and we’d tried, even with little heart for it. We’ve made joy with time together and being present. We’ve built some spirit of fun and love and we’ve been grateful for what we have.
I could have done all that with a little boy getting his first gifts too though.