Christmas Eve is always a big deal in our house. To be honest the tradition of celebrating most holidays is inherited from my Mum so I am sure you can imagine how many little things are done to celebrate.
In Scandinavia they celebrate Christmas Eve more than Christmas day and in our family home we celebrate both with as much effort. My Mum always cooks a beautiful meal and this year was no exception.
Christmas Eve was tough though as my Dad wasn't there and you could feel this hole and everyone was aware of it. On Christmas Eve growing up, and still recently, he was a huge part of events. It was always his role to place the fairy on top of the tree at the end of the evening before we lit the real candles and marvelled at the candle light. He would then read Becky and I 'T'was the night before Christmas' and was so good at it... he read it with such drama. (I can still hear him now.)
The next morning it was always him and Fluffy (our ginger tom cat) who would go downstairs to check if Santa had been. They would always go first and I now know he would switch on the Christmas tree lights, open the patio door (which Santa used to get in to the house) and whilst my Mum looked frazzled (due to being up till some ungodly hour wrapping) he would be wide eyed and sprightly- laughing and smiling with us about the presents we had been given and he would have always bought my Mum some crazy gift as part of his present to her (usually only purchased on Christmas Eve and almost always from Studio One, Paper Tiger, Habitat and Inhouse.) He never let us know what he had bought her and we always couldn't wait to see what it was. They would open their stockings to each other after we had opened all of our presents from Santa (and we did the present opening in this way till a few years ago). It was always just as exciting to see what they gave each other. There was always giggles at the stage of Christmas Day. It was a wee insight into their relationship- like when you see your parents be affectionate to each other.
I look back and my Parents were such a good team at Christmas. My Mum was the grafter and did a lot of the hard slog.... the foundations and the little touches that don't always get the credit but it wouldn't have been Christmas without and my Dad added the humour and the finishing touches.
So many of my family memories centre around Christmas.... so it was never going to be easy but we made new memories and had a lovely time.
The week before my Dad passed away Becky heard my Dad tell a nurse that we were a family of 4 when this all started in 2001 (when he first was diagnosed with cancer) and now we are a family of 6. He thought of the boys as family and we couldn't have gotten through the Christmas week if it wasn't for them (or the last year!). We are still a family of 6 but sadly only 5 of us were there to share Christmas together.
Becky and Nathan, who has always been at his boys Christmas Eve get together in past years came to dinner as they had moved their boys evening. A lot of the guys have children now so the Christmas Eve get together is less possible. We had still had a great time with all his school friends at Katie and Hector's wedding and Hector had had a mini stag so they got some of their boy testosterone out then!
Becky took on the responsibility of Dad's Christmas Eve role and she placed the fairy on the top of the tree. This was a poignant moment for all of us and a sad reminder of our loss.
Thinking of Dad as Becky placed her fairy on the tree.
As Mum lit the candles and we watched them flicker in the dark of the livingroom we remembered all the amazing times we have had together as a family around our Christmas trees. All the stresses to get everything done for guests arriving, all the laughs, the fun...... I was so glad Nathan was there to cuddle into.