It’s that time of year where I often joke about being a Grinch and hating Christmas. There’s actually three sides to my dislike of Christmas so I’ll start with the bit that most of you haven’t heard before.
One year when Isla was really poorly before Christmas I did promise that if Isla made it through and made it home then I’d let all my ‘Grinchiness’ go. Well, I haven’t really kept the promise, and here’s why.
Christmas (nowadays anyway) is all about the excitement of children and their belief in Santa. I don’t get that from Isla. Christmas, the build up, and all the nice things like writing a list, watching Christmas movies, late night shopping with a hot chocolate at the German markets, then Christmas morning – ‘he’s been!’, running down to open presents… Isla doesn’t even notice the difference.
Yes, she loves twinkling lights which there’s more of, but she’d rather be playing with her old, familiar toys than ripping paper off a new one. She’s just not bothered. We pose for a few pictures and then in truth I end up opening most of Isla’s for her because she wants to go in her swing or spin things on the windowsill.
There’s no extra joy in our Christmas than any other day; so that’s what it is, just another day. I don’t begrudge other’s love of Christmas on this front but sometimes it is hard to see and it’s difficult for me to be enthusiastic about everything. If you see me grumpy about Christmas please understand that I’m not the Grinch who stole Christmas, but, for me, Christmas has been stolen.
The second thing with Christmas for me is kind of PTSD related. Isla’s first Christmas, Kerry and I had Christmas dinner courtesy of the Alder Hey cafe. I felt so much gratitude at having a free Christmas dinner that I cried. And it was really nice.
However, Isla had episodes of Torsades while we ate and I had my phone on the table in case we had a call and had to dash back up.
I had a picture with Santa next to my ventilated baby on ICU as she was fighting for her life.
Seeing her frail little body on a hospital theatre bed, surgery scars still very fresh, and I had to smile even though I felt like my world was falling apart; that is my memory of Christmas 2019. I will always see Christmas differently after that day. I’m not necessarily triggered by Christmas dinner or by Father Christmas but I do always think about that dinner in Alder Hey and cry for the parents in that position.
Side note: We’ve had a Christmas period in hospital 3 times out of what will be 6 years… actually only in on Christmas Day for first one but on decorated Christmas wards. We’ve seen Santa in hospital more than in the real world between being in Alder Hey and Bolton.
While we were in Manchester St. Mary’s (for 1 night), Manchester United visited and gave Isla her first ever present. In Alder Hey, Everton visited and gave her some nice gifts.
And we were in Bolton when Bolton Wanderers visited but fortunately we were actually on our way home and saw them on the ward but missed them! (Bury til I die!) Please note that neither Manchester City or Liverpool visited while we were there… just saying.
With all these experiences, for me, Christmas just won’t ever really be the same. It is something that I’m thankful for in that we still get to have it with Isla, but it does have some difficult memories.
Those who know my Christmas rant can probably skip the next paragraph.
My other gripe about Christmas comes from an autistic logic, and I’ve felt it way before Isla. When I saw The Big Bang Theory and Sheldon’s rant about it I’ve never identified with someone more. Why would I spend £20 on something you don’t really want or need, for you to spend £20 on me on something I will most likely hide in a cupboard or give to charity? We may as well just keep our money and spend it on ourselves. It’s not that I’m not generous, if I see something I think you’ll like, I’ll buy it, regardless of it being 25th December; or if you need cheering up I might just send something randomly, I just don’t like the pressure. If you have to ask someone what they want, so then they know what you’re getting them, what’s the point? With children, you know what they like, or they have a catalogue of things they like and it is a present and a surprise. You’re not expecting anything back off a child. It’s nice and it’s what Christmas is about. Baby Jesus didn’t have to get The Three Wise Men a present every year (after they brought flammable liquids and accelerants into a stable, full off hay, with a fire).
So there’s my explanation ahead of the holiday season. I won’t spoil your excitement if you excuse and understand my lack of it. I’m not Scrooge, and I’m not really a Grinch, but I do totally understand his attitude towards Christmas; As Christmas gets more and more in my face, the more I resent it. I know it’s magical for so many people and I’m happy for them but it just reminds me I don’t have that with Isla and chances are I never will. So I am a little bitter but over time it’ll probably get easier. Like the Grinch I’d like to keep myself to myself but Christmas is a time for family and being together above anything else and I think more people need to remember that. Isla is our Christmas miracle as it’s really a miracle she survived that first one.
All of that said… Christmas decorations shouldn’t go up until end of November at the earliest/1st of December!!