This resurgence of Christmas spirit has really bought home to me just how hard the past few Christmases without Mum and Dad have really been. When I look back now I've endured the last three Christmases rather than celebrated them. I've put on a brave face for the kids but in all honesty I've been relieved when the day itself is over and I've managed to hold it together. Things haven't been made any easier by having to spend parts of the past three Christmas/ New Year periods in the Emergency Department of the local hospital with Henry battling to breath after severe asthma attacks (a tradition I'm really not that keen to continue!).
So this year I'm hoping to start afresh. Rather than trying not to think about Christmases past I've leapt right in and bought a real Christmas tree for the first time in years. Surely nothing smells more like Christmas in Australia than a good old pine tree? Last year that smell would have reduced me to tears but this year it's helping me bridge the before and after grief gap. Decorating the tree with the kids is also balm for the soul. It's such a special time especially as we bring out each ornament and talk about where it came from, who made it or who gave it to us. I have a soft spot for two ornaments (a stocking and a bauble) that I made using a 'stained glass' craft kit when I was about eight but my favourite decorations are these funny little reindeer. The reindeer faces were made by tracing around the kids feet and the antlers by cutting around an outline of their hands or stamping them in paint. Henry's was made when he was only one year old so it is teensy tiny and it reminds me how important it is to grasp every moment of their childhood before it slips away.
So how are your Christmas preparations coming along? Do you have any favourite rituals to help kick-start the Christmas season? Any fabulous Christmas baking recipes I should know about?