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Getting ready for Christmas

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I usually start preparing for Christmas in October. Well....this year has been a drag. But I want the boys to have a happy Christmas and to continue building new happy memories.

So, off I went to the town centre to buy Christmas cards earlier this month. I used to always buy religious cards - which were more and more difficult to buy unless you ordered in advance from British Museum or Museums & Galleries. This year, I bought all sorts of cards except religious ones. I bought cute little robin ones, big ones with pictures of snow and Santa.

2 Sundays ago, we went to the local Christmas Tree farm to buy a tree. This was another family tradition - all 4 of us driving to the farm in Ringshall and spending ages measuring, debating and measuring again before buying one. When we came home, things just happened. When I say 'things just happened', I mean the tree was stood on the stand, the decorations brought up from the cellar and the tree decorated. I never did any of this. I used to go to the kitchen and probably would have started baking mince pies while the 3 boys together would have set the tree up on the stand, watered it, went down the cellar to pick up Christmas decorations and started decorating the tree and the house. I likely barked some instructions in Paul's direction to make sure he supervised the boys properly - making a mental note at the same time that I will have to 'fix' the tree decorations. I had images of this tradition carrying on for decades in our family.

This year, I had to do it all. It was no fun. There was no Paul to bark orders at, except painful memories of how much fun this day usually was; carols playing in the background, the smell of freshly baked mince pies and the general love and chaos that goes with four strong minded individuals decorating one family home.

Once the tree is decorated to everyone's satisfaction, it feels like Christmas is truly around the corner. I would then write the Christmas cards. Gone are the days when I used to make Paul sign the cards. He wasn't one for that. It was like asking a petulant child to sit down and do his homework. He would rather be playing outside with the boys. In years past, I had the house to myself for a few hours to write the Christmas cards methodically and making different piles - one for posting within the UK, one for international post and one for hand deliveries. Meanwhile, Paul kept the boys entertained. This usually meant they were out walking or out on their bikes. How I wish I had paid more attention to what he was doing with the boys, instead of focusing on the practical things! I was just glad that he took the boys out and gave me some peace and quiet to get on with what he considered boring tasks.

Last year was too raw to do any of the above and we spent a few days around Christmas with Paul's brother's family. So, we had no decoration, no tree and no cards - just presents. This year is the first year we 3 are celebrating Christmas at home, continuing with our family traditions. Some of the cards I wrote, I remember starting to sign off with 'Sudha, Pau...' and having to correct it. It felt and still feels incomplete. It will always feel incomplete. Sudha, Harry and Andrew don't sound right. There is a big gaping hole which will never be filled. It feels fake when I write our 3 names without Paul. So, in some cards, I did sign off with 'Sudha, Harry, Andrew and Paul in spirit'. I feel he's around us; his energy is within me; his positivity is helping me.

After the cards are done, I would start on the gifts list and then meals planning. This year, Andrew and I made our own Christmas wrapping paper using brown paper and rubber stamps. We bought eco-friendly labels and yarns to finish off the gift wrapping. Yesterday, I sat in our kitchen wrapping the presents and wrote 'love from mum and dad' on all the boys' presents. It felt GOOD. I felt HAPPY. None of their presents is just from me; it is from both of us; I cannot separate Paul from me, especially in everything to do with being a parent.

As I put the presents under the tree, I saw one which just said 'Sudsy'. The handwriting was uncanny. It was very much like Paul's and that's what Paul called me - Sudsy. It is a present for me from Andrew. I can't wait to open it tomorrow.

I'm writing this blog with a glass of port in one hand hoping to feel relaxed, but, I'm not able to. Andrew tested positive on Monday after 2 days of feeling rough and we are in isolation. I'm anxious about what tomorrow will bring. I'm nervous about getting things wrong and upsetting the kids. My all time favourite phrase is soon becoming 'you couldn't make this shit up'. Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

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