There’s a melancholy that comes over me on Christmas night that I know is just throwback to my childhood. My family made such a big thing about Christmas, not over the top lots of presents type thing, just a warm well fed happy time. The whole build-up in school, getting the Sugradh annual, carol singing, talking about what you were going to get from Santa used to raise such excitement that I’d be fit to burst come Christmas Eve. The tree going up with the same decorations each year, putting our presents under it, lots of cards from all over, the box of Lemon’s from Bob and Ada Thompson the traditions that made Christmas a big event for me. There was a time when I wouldn’t read the TV pages for after Christmas before the big day, as that would be for when Christmas was over. For my father it was a big day too, probably something to do with not having much of a childhood combined with it being the one day he could spend with his family and lock the world out without rebuke. There was a chain on our big front and I think he used to slip it on about midday! So come Christmas night the sense of it being all over for another year would bring me down, probably more so in my teens as I began to realise that those special days belonged in my childhood. As a kid I’d be so tired I’d fall asleep reading my Shoot Annual after being allowed stay up late.
Even though Christmas has lost some of its magic now, inevitably so as it’s a time for kids, I still get that pang of it all being over, usually about the time I head to bed. This year it was no different but Fred’s epilepsy so dominates our lives that I hardly noticed it. Sure I was a bit sad the day was over for another year but even more so that Fred doesn’t get to enjoy it as much as he might. Last weekend he keeled over as we were putting up the tree and had to spend three nights in hospital. It was one triggered by the excitement but also the tail end of the previous weekend’s cluster. Seems to be his current pattern….a cluster followed by a few days free, followed by another less intense cluster. Just in case it hasn’t had enough off him, it comes back to try again, just to remind him it hasn’t gone away. The result of this was that we didn’t want to build the excitement too much as we didn’t want him back in again. So there wasn’t much talk of Santa Claus coming on a specific night and presents were slipped under the tree one by one. Even though his mother still wasn’t slow to bring out the “Santa’s watching” line when he misbehaved! Each seizure free day to Christmas was counted down in our heads, never mentioning to each other, hoping against hope that he’d make it. Make it he did and the two of us walked into the front room Christmas morning to find all his presents under a big rug on the couch. The Godzilla figures, the Ben10 figures, the King Kong and the Ultraman figures all that he’d asked for in his modest little letter to the big man were there and watching his face light up was the best present I’ve ever had. A great, peaceful, happy day was had by us in our little house in Ballyseedy interrupted only by food and dog walking. The slippers given to me by Ruby, some traditions don’t change over the generations, are keeping me warm as I write and Freddie is watching a movie after a morning of King Kong vs Godzilla battles.
Just as Christmas should be.