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For everyone missing a love one these holidays

Christmas, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, they say, and for me it always has been. My family is not religious, but Christmas time is full of our own traditions – little things that we’ve done since I can remember, things that I look forward to all year, things that make it Christmas for me. This year it will be different though. It will be the first without my grandma, Nanny Sue (and just the second without my Pop, her husband).

I know I’m one of the lucky ones to have had my grandmother in my life for 31 years. But 31 years of time together, 31 years of wonderful memories, means it’s really hard to say goodbye.

Each year we’d celebrate Christmas at Nan and Pop’s. Her stuffing is legendary in our family and I’m going to try my hardest to do it justice this year. She was the BEST present buyer, and I can remember as kids itching to head to Nan and Pop’s on Christmas Day because we knew we’d be absolutely spoilt. I’m going to miss hanging out in their kitchen while Nan directed Pop to carve the pork (and to stop eating the crackling), to put this here and that there. I’m going to miss looking along the huge table filled by their three sons, nine grandkids and all the extras we’ve collected along the way, and see Nan and Pop sitting at the head with silly paper crowns popped on their heads.  I’m going to miss seeing them sitting on the veranda at the end of the day, exhausted but with a look of complete happiness on their faces, surrounded by the big beautiful family they created. When I think about Christmas, it’s these memories that come up. The simple ones.

But this year they won’t be there, and I’m not sure what Christmas will be like at all, in a way I’m dreading it. Losing my grandparents has made it hit home for me that, for so many people, Christmas is not so wonderful; it’s heartbreaking. It’s a day that you’re reminded of the people that aren’t there – the ones taken too soon, the ones who had a great innings and the ones who just can’t get there this year because of the world right now.

My mum lost her dad over 20 years ago, but every Christmas Eve lights the same candle in memory of him, and this year we’ll light a candle for Nan and Pop too. So if Christmas is really hard and not very wonderful for you, I just want to say that I feel it. I’ll be wrapping my arms around my fam, smothering my kids in kisses and finding joy in their joy, and missing Nan and Pop hard, but feeling bloody grateful for all I have.

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