Christmas is now less than a month away, and I can’t wait – for the day to hurry up and be over.
Before you start thinking I am a miserable cow and shout ‘bah humbug’ at me, hear me out.
While I have never been someone to get excited about Christmas months in advance, I do generally get in to the festive spirit a couple of weeks or so before the big day. It’s the things like dos and get togethers, buying the perfect presents for loved ones, and preparing the food that gets me in the right mood.
This year, though, I am not sure even those pleasures will get me in the spirit.
You see, last Christmas I was pregnant with Hugo, our first baby. The pregnancy was progressing beautifully. Martin and I spent a quiet Christmas, just the two of us, thinking it would be our last Christmas to do exactly as we pleased.
Tragically, Hugo was born 16 weeks prematurely in February this year, and died just 35 days later. It means that this Christmas, Martin and I will still be able to do exactly as we please. We hate that.
My baby was due to be born in June (I am being gender neutral because last Christmas I was around 17 weeks’ pregnant and convinced I was having a girl until the gender reveal at the 20 week scan). That means the baby would only have been six months old this Christmas – far too young to know or understand anything about it at all of course. I will still miss the Christmas we will not have.
Last Christmas, we were looking forward to the baby’s first time seeing the Christmas lights and their little face lighting up. The baby would have just started weaning, and we were looking forward to what parts of the Christmas dinner they would like and which foods would make them screw up their face in disgust.
The baby I was carrying was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. We were anticipating this Christmas, and every one thereafter would be a balancing act of seeing all the various family members, who would want to see the baby armed with an array of presents, and being buried under a mountain of wrapping paper from more toys than any one child could ever possibly play with.
After all, I have always thought that so much of the pleasure of Christmas comes from seeing the joy on children’s faces. That joy doesn’t have to be only about spoiling them with presents, but from seeing their look of wonder at the pretty lights, visiting Father Christmas, and spending time together.
I want to buy presents for my son, just like any parent does at Christmas. Rather than considering what toys would be appropriate for his age, or buying outfits to make him look even more handsome I will be shopping for something that will be able to withstand the outdoor elements in his grave garden.
I go to the shops and see all the adorable little Christmas all-in-one outfits for babies – I have little doubt that family and friends would have bought one (or several) for Hugo to wear and look cute in. Seeing these outfits and knowing this simplest, most humble of seasonal pleasures for mothers with little babies is something else I am denied is yet another sting.
Christmas TV adverts are an additional torment. The one with the small boy who befriends a cute penguin I cannot watch. I caught it once, and shouted ‘oh f*ck off’ at the telly in response to the tagline. Other adverts with happy families sitting around a table to enjoy the day remind me of who will always be missing.
All the excited seasonal chatter on social media makes me want to shut it off for the next few weeks. If only there was a mute button for it all.
Rationally, I know Christmas itself, while subdued, will probably ok. The things you worry and fret about usually turn out to not be as bad as you fear. They also say the ‘firsts’ are the worst – the first birthday, the first Christmas, etc. You should never wish away your life, I know, but I can’t wait for Christmas to hurry up and be over so this additional torment can be done with.
I know these things do not get easier, but different. I am hoping for next Christmas, and all the ghosts of Christmas future to be different, and the sting to be less painful each year.