Christmas Day won’t be the same for us this year. There will be an empty seat at the dinner table where my son used to sit. Oh, don’t worry, he hasn’t died; he’s working at the Harvester.
I knew this time would come. This isn’t the first December he has been working there, but until this year he’s always managed to negotiate himself the time off. On paper, of course, he’s the best person to work during the festivities. He’s single with no one to answer to, whereas some of his colleagues are married with children and complicated family situations. But for some reason his boss hasn’t taken my feelings into account. No, no, that’s selfish. I don’t want to be THAT MOTHER, the one who majors in emotional blackmail and puts pressure on her offspring.
If you’d asked me, I would have said we weren’t a particularly traditional family, and yet I now see that we have been following the same routine every Christmas for quite a few years, albeit keeping things age appropriate. There is the annual debate about when to put up the tree, for instance. I come from a family who would decorate the weekend before Christmas and take it all down again on Twelfth Night, but I’m married to a man whose way is to put it up much earlier than that and leave it only until New Year’s Eve. We compromise, one way or another, on the date, but always have a glass of something to accompany the task while The Muppet Christmas Carol or, if we’re feeling mawkish, It’s a Wonderful Life plays on TV in the background. That didn’t happen this year and it felt odd not to do it. After dinner on Christmas Eve we open one present each – something small and not from an immediate family member. I don’t know if that will happen this year either, because with number one son missing it won’t be the same.
So we’re doing things a bit different this time and I’m trying to be cool about it. I’m a yoga teacher, for goodness sake, so I must be generous spirited and release my attachment to routine. I must be flexible, open-hearted and open-minded. Things change, we adapt, we move on.
Even so, I wonder if I can get away with leaving out a sherry and mince pie for Santa?
Season’s greetings to you all.