Until of course Daisy came along. Like many people with a learning disability, Daisy was obsessed by Christmas. The Singing Hands Christmas DVDs were played all year in our house and lists to "ho ho ho" were scribbled whenever Daisy had access to paper and pens.
As soon as Christmas decorations appeared in the shops her excitement would mount to fever pitch with a constant demand of "where tree?". Most years I was able to hang on until the earliest days in December but last year Daisy wore me down.
Last year our tree went up at the end of November. Last year had been so tough for us all, trying to come to terms with life without Andy. The Christmas after Andy died it was such a blur that required superhuman effort to get through, we hadn't even had his funeral at that point. The Christmas Andy died was something just to be negotiated.
So last year I wanted to make up for things, I wanted to make it doubly special. Just as I had all those Christmases after Daisy was born, so aware that her first Christmas was spent in hospital and our family was apart on Christmas morning.
Most years I bought a real tree but last year I bought an artificial one so that Daisy could get really close to the ornaments on the tree and inspect them from her wheelchair (we found that the real trees made that very difficult and her visual impairment meant that she needed to get really close to properly see the decorations). So when it was delivered in November Daisy was beside herself and certainly not prepared to wait another moment. I broke our tradition and put the tree up.
|Big brother Theo decided that Santa would appreciate a Jaeger Bomb last year....|
She was so happy. She loved the white lights and all the decorations, each one telling a story. The ones made by the children over the years, the ones we had collected on our various trips and adventures; Disney , Buckingham Palace, Center Parcs. The special "Baby's First Christmas" decoration that I had bought the year Theo was born. The handmade ones we had bought at countless school fairs over the years. All topped with the star. I gave Daisy the choice of angel or star. It had to be the star. We always talked about Daddy being in the stars after all, it was right that we had a star at the top of our tree for our first Christmas since Andy's funeral. Our first Christmas as a family of five.
It was also our last Christmas all together. I'm so glad I caved in and put her tree up early.
This year is hard. Christmas is about children. Christmas was all about Daisy.
A few days ago I got the decorations and the tree out of the attic. I could hear Daisy calling "where tree mummy?'. I needed to put them up for her.
That was tough.
The first thing I found when I opened the box was the little sign to Santa saying she had been a good girl this year.
I found the star she had made in school out of pipe cleaners and beads, the baubles she had decorated.
I found the cards we made each year, with a family photo, all six of us smiling; at the Olympic Park, at Disney World.
So many memories. So many Christmases.
This Christmas will be different again. Another adjustment. No overexcited Daisy on Christmas morning. No toys to unwrap. We'll create some new traditions, we'll keep some old ones.
This Christmas we are are a family of four. There are no small children in the house any more. There is no reason to put out a drink and mince pie for Santa. We will though. Daisy would expect it.
I'll keep adding to my collection of tree decorations too.
I've put the tree up for you Daisy. This year I've put the angel at the top of it, it reminds me of you.