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50 Ways to Leave Your 40s: #7 A Christmas of Two Halves

It feels a bit strange writing this blog as it’s not an ‘experience’ I particularly chose, but it’s an experience that has never happened before, so I guess it kind of counts. Although I must add it’s not a Christmas experience I wish to repeat either…

Sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

In the melee of the festive season, life has thrown a massive curve ball at our family. A curve ball that has knocked one family member down like a big fat bowling ball careering down the alley. Off he went to the hospital last just before Christmas to have a big ‘C’ tumor removed. Our usual Christmas traditions of drinking gin all day, eating ourselves into a food coma and playing Wii golf all went out the window, to be replaced with hospital visits, instant tea from a machine and a bag of crisps between journeys.

Opening Christmas PresentsBut amongst all of that, there’s someone else to consider. One very excited 11 year old. One excited 11 year old who still believes in the magic of Christmas (quite rightly so!) and who woke up on the 25th with her Daddy and Aunty, expecting Santa to have done the honors and left a pile of pressies.

So, the first part of Christmas Day was exactly that – screams of delight, lots of wrapping paper strewn everywhere and chocolate eaten for breakfast. Perfect! Until midday it was as per previous years …except for the missing person of course. And then, once the youngest was delivered back to her Mums, just two adults remained. No other halves, no additional children, no in-laws and no massive family ready to descend. Just two adults.

We’d already made a decision not to cook the traditional big festive feast until the hospital patient was home but suddenly, in the cold light of Christmas Day, I was missing my food mountain. I was missing my stomach groaning in pleasure and missing my gin and lemonade on tap throughout the day.

I can’t ever remember not having a Christmas dinner. Even when I worked overseas for two festive seasons, we managed to find somewhere that would make it feel as homely as possible, despite the 80 degrees heat. Christmas may have literally been just the day itself (holidaymakers still needed looking after 24/7 unfortunately) but we still managed to squeeze in turkey, pigs in blankets and some fizz. Quite a lot of fizz if I remember…

But not this year. No fizz to toast the day, no gin to get through the day, just a glass of warm wine at 9 pm.

My emotions, understandably, have been all over the place. From joy, excitement and happiness in one moment to sadness, worry and loneliness in the next. And then, Boxing Day, the latter has taken over. A day normally reserved to a late breakfast, a long dog walk to clear the fuzzy head and chilling out on the settee channel hopping and chocolate eating. And whilst I did most of those things, I did it alone; my wingman out of action for the foreseeable.

Despite my ‘Christmas of Two Halves’, I am grateful of course. Grateful for the wonderful NHS, grateful I got to wake up next to a giddy young girl on Christmas morning, grateful I can see teeny tiny improvements with the patient and grateful Father Christmas still worked his magic for all of us and delivered some amazing presents.

And whilst it’s not a Christmas I would want to repeat, nor a Christmas experience I had on my list, it’s been a first in so many ways. Let’s just hope it’s also a last.

To read more of 50 Ways to Leave Your 40s, click here.

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