So Christmas came, and Christmas went… and in its place I’ve been left with a feeling of sadness; sadness that I didn’t manage to enjoy the build up to it as much as usual, and sadness that it’s already been and gone.
But more than that, I also have a feeling of contentment and Peace and the sense that Christmas came and did what it was designed to do- just when I needed it most 🙂
If you read this blog, you’ll know that my Mum’s passing last year affected unexpected areas of my life. This poor blog suffered from it, when I lost the enthusiasm for writing it- despite having recently discovered that keeping it up to date could in fact be one of the best things for keeping my little business in the search engines’ ‘eyes’…
My motivation for planning ahead and actually sewing completely went AWOL for a while- despite the fact that my Mum was undoubtedly the biggest inspiration for me ever even learning to sew, and certainly was therefore at least part of the reason for me setting up my little business in the first place…
And my excitement for the festive season, which I normally have to rein in from around September for fear of upsetting people, just never really surfaced until the day itself- despite Mum’s enjoyment of the season causing me to love it myself quite so much…
I still felt compelled to go through the usual motions- putting up our strings of lights around the walls and windows at their usual times… decorating the house in all its festive glory only a few days later than ‘normal’ for us…
I thought I’d feel it more this year, and until November hit I was fully doing Christmas for my Mum- it was in tribute to her.
That feeling had already been slipping away from me by the middle of the month, when I opened the box containing my beautiful knitted Nativity
Isn’t it funny how a particular item, or in this case group of items can come to mean so much at different times during your life? My Mum (no surprise) was the one who knitted the set for us. Way back when Knitting Pixie was tiny, Mum came across the pattern book for a knitted Nativity set and being keen on knitting, but (at that time) not having many grandchildren to knit for, she knitted the basic characters and presented it to us in late November that year. It quickly became very special to us, and the next year it was one of our key decorations- one of those that once up signifies that Christmas has ‘arrived’ in the household.
A couple of years later and the pattern maker had introduced a donkey to the set, so Mum made us one and that was added- along with several stray sheep from our church’s travelling Nativity, to our set.
Our first Christmas after we moved from London to Devon was spent in a caravan as the house wasn’t ready to be moved into. Although we bought some lights and decorated the van as best as we could, we didn’t have any of our decorations with us- we hadn’t expected to still be in temporary accommodation, so everything was deep in storage. Although it was sad not having the Nativity around that year, our move was the start of an exciting new chapter in our lives and we knew we had many more years to enjoy it.
The next year it found its new home in a prominent position in our living room- just as it had back in our old house 🙂
Which is where it was proudly standing seven years ago- on the day we lost our house to the fire…
It broke my heart seeing it standing there in the remains of our home, and somehow it symbolised everything we had just lost. It hadn’t burnt, but smoke and water damage and damp from the cold empty shell of the house took its toll on the poor set, and left it unusable. Of the whole set, just one lonely sheep survived- found later on the floor buried beneath other things. After yet another stay in storage, the set was then transferred to our rental home’s garage as I couldn’t face the thought of throwing it away. We know we’ve had mice out there, crawling through the still boxed up remains of our previous life, but I STILL haven’t been brave enough to look…
Mum knew how much I loved that set and so five years ago, though already poorly, she began making a replacement- asking me for photos so she could match the colours as closely as possible to the original. Though her illness was to a large extent kept ’in the background’ with few long stays in hospital, she was obviously finding things harder going. That first year she made me just the main characters- Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, a Shepherd and a sheep. The next year a King, second Shepherd and another sheep… followed a year later by the other two Kings. With the set almost complete, the Donkey was set to join the group last year… then this year… sadly, he never did.
This year, the set once again seemed somehow to symbolise and sum up all my feelings and emotions from this last roller coaster year. With the set’s history I knew it would be difficult, but I didn’t expect to chicken out of even touching the first King… to have a sudden vision of Mum carefully knitting each stitch… to remember the photo she sent through proudly showing him half knitted… 😦
I closed the box, but kept it around- deliberately ‘in the way’. I knew I would recognise when the time was right for displaying them- either that, or I’d get so fed up with the box being in the way that I’d get them out just to clear it away!!
And the day did come. On the 23rd December we were having a mad clear up and getting the last of the decorations out- the pretty finishing touches of tinsel, the stocking hangers, and the place-mats for the dining table… Games Boy was due home that evening for a few days, and Knitting Pixie the next. Excitement was beginning to build in the household, and I suddenly realised how daft it was that our treasured set wasn’t yet out.
Suddenly it was easy to lift each character out and stand them in their place on the windowsill, and to build the Nativity scene around the other decorations. Suddenly everything seemed to fall into place, and it felt like Christmas had arrived at last. After having been feeling quite down about the whole season this year, it was nice to feel contentment- and to feel that things were going to be okay.
I’m not going to pretend that this year’s Christmas was the best we’ve ever had. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t get so stupidly wound up by the idea of travelling and leaving the house over Christmas (a by-product of that day seven years ago) that I didn’t feel physically sick at thought- while switching lights off at 7am to travel across the country! Or pretend that I wasn’t also dreading the prospect of our annual family gathering, minus my Mum.
But Christmas Peace somehow worked its magic in me. From being invited to join with a group of friends from the village and pub for dinner at the pub a couple of days before, to then being included in the pre-Midnight Communion drinks at the churchwarden’s house… from the calm and peace of that service to the chaos of our once again full house on Christmas morning… the fun of Christmas Day and Boxing Day… and from the busyness of four days of travelling around the country visiting family and friends to the hopeful anticipation of the New Year…
Throughout all of it, the true spirit of Christmas shone through and I was left feeling refreshed- tired from all the travelling and busyness of family life, but renewed in my hope that everything would one day be ‘okay’ again 🙂
Nothing will bring my Mum back to us, and sadly only time can heal the raw grief of my poor Dad. But one day it will be alright without her here, we’ll learn to find that ‘new normal’ that everyone tells you about in times like this.
Little Dolly Clothes Shop will hopefully find its place in the search engines again and thrive once again- time moves on and tastes and shopping trends change, but the basics of what I make and sell never alter. If I can sit out this period of uncertainty in the country, make it through the constant economic and political turmoil then maybe my little business has a chance.
Above all, if Christmas taught me anything, it’s that if I can keep my faith and put my trust in God, if I can remain true to believing that He will look after us, whatever happens around us- then everything will definitely be ‘okay’ again… one day 🙂