The Second Christmas After Hugo

The second Christmas after Hugo. It’s fast approaching.

It’s a funny old time. In many respects, the days are just like other days but Christmas always carries such a special poignancy doesn’t it? With that poignancy comes a heavy helping of expectation, immersed in families who seem to be so bloody happy.

We’re not looking forward to Christmas as such. However our second Christmas after Hugo feels, as promised by other parents who have followed the path before us, different.

This year I am doing my best to be magnanimous, sanguine, to approach the festive season with a kind of resignation.

A sense of something to be got through, survived.

This too shall pass.

My beautiful Hugo.

My beautiful Hugo.

This sentiment is contrasted with my feelings of last year: I was full of pent-up anger, fury, rage at the world. I just could not wait for Christmas to hurry up and be over. Last Christmas was supposed to be our first as our little family, Baby’s First Christmas. Hugo would have been far too young to have appreciated it of course, but it was supposed to have been so special.

I was resentful of the families making preparations, their little ones dressed in cute little outfits, celebrating time together.

Mummy, Daddy, Hugo

Mummy, Daddy, Hugo

I accepted a friend’s challenge to find some beauty in Christmas – and to my surprise, I did. My love of all things sparkly helps, I think.

Of course, while the day itself presented challenges I survived.

That knowledge is helpful for coping with this year’s festivities. All the ‘firsts’ have come and gone: Hugo’s first birthday, the anniversary of his death…each anniversary has in its own way been horrid, but I am still here.

It’s important to recognise that while it feels ‘better than last year’ it doesn’t mean things are better. It is ‘better’ as in ‘not as bad’, rather than resolved. It might seem pedantic, but it’s a useful distinction to remember if you are in a similar situation for whatever reason, or you know someone who is.

Hugo, if he was with us, would at 18 months old be still be too young to appreciate what Christmas is all about. But just like my friend’s little boy who is the same age as Hugo would be he would be entranced by the decorations and the pretty lights. I love seeing my friend’s little boy’s face light up in joy and delight at the festivities. But, of course, it gives me such a heavy feeling in my heart that I shall never see Hugo’s reaction.

There is always a Hugo-shaped hole in my heart, of course, every day. But at such times it seems to have extra emphasis because it is a reminder of everything that Martin and I wanted, everything that we had, everything we lost and now do not have.

Just like many Mummies I want to spoil my little boy, especially at Christmas. I look at the toys and the cute little outfits (my boy would, of course, be very stylish).

It breaks my heart all over again.

When choosing a present for Hugo I have to consider whether it will endure the elements outside in his garden. I’ve chosen for him some little sparkly Christmas trees that look very pretty, and I have a couple of other things to take on Christmas Eve too.

Hugo's garden with his sparkly decorations.

Hugo’s garden with his sparkly decorations.

So what are Martin and I doing this Christmas?

I have a mostly clear diary. We will be by ourselves doing what we want when we want. It’s much easier that way. It is nothing personal against anyone else, but we have to do what is best for us.

No false smiles.

No one feeling like they are treading on eggshells, not knowing what to say or what to avoid saying.

My planner for this week: mainly clear and with a few reminders to just keep going.

My planner for this week: mainly clear and with a few reminders to just keep going.

No decorations, other than the star fairy lights we usually have up anyway. Knowing we had bought out tree and decorations two years ago while I was pregnant in anticipation of seeing our baby’s delight at them is too much.

I have few expectations. My focus is on trying to be kind to myself. There is a lot of chocolate and wine in the cupboard.

I’ll probably be doing my best to avoid social media. Avoiding not only the little barbs of other families’ happiness, but also in a bid to avoid getting too cross about what feels to me to be trivial moans about the usual gripes.

On the gift tags I have written I have found wishing the recipient a ‘Happy Christmas’ difficult; it feels insincere because I don’t feel it (I will probably never be a politician). In lieu of cards, I have donated money to First Touch to help other babies in Hugo’s memory.

Instead, I have been focusing on a new year.

2016 is around the corner. I was dreading the arrival of 2015 because it meant the departure of 2014, the year in which Hugo lived.

But I have survived 2015, even thrived in many ways. Despite, and because of.

2016: A new year, new opportunities for dreams to be realised.

And the hope that next Christmas, while it will be our third after Hugo, may bring with it a new hope.

Our fairy lights on our mantelpiece at home, in front of a photo of Hugo.

Our fairy lights on our mantelpiece at home, in front of a photo of Hugo.

8 Comments on The Second Christmas After Hugo

  1. Tim
    December 26, 2015 at 5:16 pm (1 year ago)

    I hope you and Martin have enjoyed your Christmas. I can only imagine how difficult this time of year in particular is to all those who have suffered a loss like yours. We’ve been trying to teach the kids this year that Christmas is a time to think about others even more than usual, as for all the presents they receive and the fun they have there are many who must face tougher times for all manner of reasons.
    Tim recently posted…Strictly Come ThatchamMy Profile

    Reply
    • Leigh
      December 30, 2015 at 2:58 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you Tim. I love the approach you take with your children – hope you all had a good one x

      Reply
  2. Conor's Mummy
    December 23, 2015 at 8:52 am (1 year ago)

    Your words mirror my thoughts. We should have a 17 month boy pulling the baubles off our tree. We have gone away and I have found a cafe that does the most delicious hot chocolate. Take care and hold on. From Conor’s Mummy xxx

    Reply
    • Leigh
      December 23, 2015 at 10:51 am (1 year ago)

      I’m so sorry, Conor’s Mummy. Hot chocolate is lovely but no substitute for a little boy who should be causing havoc – we should both be having eyes in the back of our heads at the moment, not tears in our eyes. Hugs xxx

      Reply
  3. Elena
    December 22, 2015 at 4:27 pm (1 year ago)

    It’s really lovely to see someone else say they wanted the cling onto the year their baby lived in. So many people have said to me ‘I bet you can’t wait to see the back of this year’ but it’s the total opposite. I found out I was pregnant on 9th January and lost him in July. This year has been all about Aneurin and I don’t want to move into a new year without him.
    I hope Christmas passes peacefully for you and Martin. Sending you both and beautiful Hugo lots of love xxx
    Elena recently posted…To All My Fellow Bereaved Parents At ChristmasMy Profile

    Reply
    • Leigh
      December 23, 2015 at 10:50 am (1 year ago)

      Yes I found that strange at the end of last year, Elena. I wanted to hold on to 2014 with a vice-like grip. Thinking of you and Aneurin, what a beautiful name. Thank you for your kind comment, I hope the season is kind to you xxx

      Reply
  4. Kiran
    December 22, 2015 at 1:08 pm (1 year ago)

    Much love to you and Martin, Leigh. Be kind to yourself and eat all that chocolate. I’ve been thinking of Hugo and wishing everything was different. You’re all in my thoughts xx

    Reply
    • Leigh
      December 23, 2015 at 10:48 am (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much lovely Kiran xxx

      Reply

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