A very happy, if slightly belated, New Year to you all. How were the holidays? Did they go as planned? Did they drag along, or disappear in a flash?
Mine were lovely. My dear old Mum and gorgeous niece arrived a few days before Christmas, as planned, and the whole visit was perfect. It’s not always easy being thrown together with family for extended periods of time in confined quarters, yet we all do it every Christmas and then wonder why it sometimes doesn’t work? Fortunately I didn’t have that problem as mine went really well, but I do sympathies with those that didn’t have such a successful gathering.
I was working on the day they arrived but jumped in the car the minute I finished and whizzed off to pick them up at the airport, with Christmas music blasting out of the speakers in the car. As you can imagine, International Arrivals a few days before Christmas was a bit hectic but my timing was good and I didn’t have long to wait before they arrived.
Mum’s health hasn’t been great this last year, so I had organised a porter with a wheelchair – which she will have hated as she is so independent. Out she wheeled with my niece following behind with all the bags in tow, and I was so happy the Christmas holidays could begin!
Normally when they visit at Christmas I make lots of plans and book activities e.g. Afternoon tea, the Nutcracker ballet etc. However, I didn’t this year as Mum just wasn’t up to it. I worried about what we would do and whether we’d all get a bit bored, but I needn’t have.
In preparation for their arrival, I had recorded lots of old classic movies as well as really Christmassy ones and I had bought some silly games that we could all enjoy at home – and that’s precisely what we did.
Mornings were spent chatting and listening to the radio (or wireless as Mum may occasionally refer to it) and in the afternoons we played games like dominoes. Except I bought the children’s version without realising and all the dominoes, instead of having little dots on them had pictures like dinosaurs and cars, we still played with them and laughed at how a six year old would still be better at it than us!
We also played Connect 4 and card games like Old Maid. The late afternoons and early evenings were spent sitting side by side on the sofa watching old movies, while I held dear old Mum’s hand and made her cups of tea. It was all absolutely lovely.
Mum’s health meant she couldn’t really go out much, but we definitely didn’t let it get in the way of us having a good time.
I did send my niece off to the sales one day on her own, as I knew she was dying to get into town and get some new clothes. On their final evening I raced home from work to take my niece to Winter Wonderland in town.
This is something else we do every year and she loves it (as I do, if I’m being honest) so I wanted to make sure everyone got to do something they enjoyed and got the holiday experience they hoped for. We saw all the bright lights, ate Spanish churros and hot chocolate sauce, took a million selfies and bought horseshoes and Christmas tree decorations (we have bought one every year we’ve been there, and getting these was our main reason for going again this year).
I worried about leaving Mum at home alone for a few hours, but all was fine – thank goodness. I think I have reached that stage in life where that very subtle and quiet role-reversal happens, without any warning or indication. You, as the child, start to worry about your parents; as though they were the child and you the parent.
It’s a slightly odd and extremely emotional feeling. I think I can honestly say that I have never felt as much love for my Mum as I did this Christmas when I was minding her and gently changing dressings she had on some of her wounds, or when I was simply holding her hand while we watched those old movies together. We had simple, quiet, unremarkable moments together like this that have become cherished memories that I will never forget.
Eventually though, our Christmas celebrations all had to come to an end and 30th December saw me returning to the airport to send them home again. It was an emotional but not a sad goodbye, simply because we had all had such a lovely time. Like when you have been on that holiday of a lifetime were everything has gone exactly how you would have wanted it to and – while you know you will be happy to go back home – you are sad that the amazing experience you have had has come to an end.
New Year’s Eve itself was spent at home, as it was my first day off – not to mention my first day alone for a while. I spent it quietly at home watching the fireworks across London from my balcony, as I was back at work again early the next morning.
This new year I did something I have never done before. Picking up on an idea I got from the lovely Speakmans, which they had as part of their Today’s Special Value, I decided to make a plan for my year.
As they say, you would never get in a car and drive without a plan of where you are going. More importantly, if you don’t have a plan for your own life, you can easily fall into following the plan someone else has, like your partner. That lack of planning or independence ultimately lead to a sense of dissatisfaction.
With all this in mind I made a plan. It’s not massively detailed. I wrote it as a sort of mind-map of core areas that I want to improve or work on, and from each of those broad themes I wrote some specific thoughts.
It didn’t take long at all, but I think the idea of just writing it down is a good first step in helping to realise your plans. If you have never done it, it’s definitely worth having a go. Other than that, I haven’t made any resolutions for the year ahead; other than to try and see Mum a little more, if I can.
None of us ever know what the future holds, but I wish everyone a year with more than a few moments of joy and happiness and without the stresses of life that wear us down – or if there are, that we can find the strength to get back up again.
In a world that appears to have gone mad and be filled with so many divisive opinions, I wish us all a year that allows us to feel love, compassion and generosity in our hearts for those who need it most, and a year that leaves us feeling no regrets but rather only joy and happiness.
Until next time,