Window No. 23

I've spent this month talking about the kind of Christmas's that I was brought up with, the traditions and the memories that shaped the way I approach the festive season with my own children. The one thing I haven't mentioned is that this time of year always holds a gem of sadness. You might think that it's odd to team up the word 'gem' with the concept of sadness but to me it's a very fitting description.

The sadness comes from the memories that this time of year conjures up. The people I've told you about, the Brinkmans, the Halls, our neighbours and my parents, are nearly all gone now. Only two of them remain, one of the neighbours who has remained a firm friend and my godmother, both of them in their eighties.

I firmly believe that life constantly throws a hotch potch of good and bad into our paths so I welcome this sadness along with the enjoyment of Christmas. As I watch my children open their presents, I remember doing the same with my own parents. When we visit my husband's extended family this season, I'll think back to past trips to my parents' families and friends. There are so many little things that link my now to my then - my mother's method of making gravy, old films, hiding my family's presents until Christmas morning. 

If this season is about home and family, it's also about the loved ones who are no longer with us, all those faces who have shaped us into the people we are.

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