Whose last Christmas will this be, for someone sitting around your tinsel-ladenTree?
LIFE, LOVE, FAMILY…three of the most precious gifts we can hope to find under our Christmas Tree. But it can change in a heartbeat, literally.
Christmas for me growing up, well into my late twenties, revolved around a few traditions in our family. But mostly it revolved around Mum and Dad. ‘Home’ was wherever they were and that was where we traditionally held our family Christmas.
For so many of those years in the weeks leading up to that day, Mum would be engrossed in her love of sewing. Toiling away into the early hours by the soft glow of the machine light; she’d lovingly create something ‘special’ for each of my Brothers, Sisters and I, as a surprise for Christmas. A new outfit, a soft toy, a brightly coloured library bag. Dad on the other hand, was on the hunt for a hoard of threepence and sixpence so Mum could hide them in the Christmas pudding she had also traditionally prepared over many many days.
With five children in the house, Christmas morning always started early.
We’d each wake to find a decorated pillowcase hanging on the end of our bed filled with toys and treats and that something ‘special’ created by Mum’s loving hands and imagination. Chewy, sticky and sweet was the welcome surprise our tummies were greeted with on those rare festive occasions. And then it was off to church. No further festivities happened until we’d dressed and been to church to give thanks for those three wise king of blessings…LOVE, LIFE, and FAMILY.
Back home it was a quick change out of our Sunday Bests, and we’d then jostle for the closest spot to the Christmas tree laden with more gifts and more surprises. Dad would usually tease out the anticipation by shouting out… ”Di can you put the kettle on please!” So Mum would make tea and bring out a tray of toast thickly spread with butter and marmalade to further fill our tummies until lunch time. I can still smell the roasts cooking away in the oven as they began to juice up and turn a crispy golden brown.
And then it began.
We all sat around as Dad traditionally handed out the presents one by one. The pile of recycled wrapping paper and fancy bows were tossed around the room piece by piece despite the laundry basket Mum had placed in the middle of the room solely for this purpose. We’d tear open our gift with much excitement and expectation. It was a time when secrets were well kept with months of hiding our gifts away from prying eyes and little hands.
I grew up in a home where Dad was the breadwinner and Mum was the stay at home chief cook and bottle washer. Every penny was spent wisely and made to go far. We were not wasteful, rich, or wealthy in assets or material things, but we were abundant in love, imagination, creativity and time for one another. Those Christmas Days were made to feel just like Christmas is meant to feel.
And then without warning, they were gone.
Dad at 59, died instantly from an aneurysm. Mum at 63, died a few years later from a brief battle with cancer. For me that essence of the Christmas I knew and longed for, for so many years was lost. Precious years that we will never have together again as a Family.
I have one wish this Christmas. I wish I could wake up this Christmas Morning to find a decorated pillowcase hanging from my bed filled with those memories and first-hand experiences and that something ‘special’ peeking out the top.
My message this Christmas for you is to embrace the moments, treasure the memories but most importantly, preserve the stories in yours; before this Christmas becomes that last Christmas for someone you love in your family. That is the essence of why I created ‘Button Jar Stories’.