Someone recently asked about my favourite Christmas memory ever - and to keep it under 100 words - and it got me thinking. I love the season and with so many memories to choose from it was a tough slog through my memory-bank.
There are the standard memories that stand out from a child’s point of view, like the time when I was five and woke up to my very own Barbie camper van, or the following year when I woke up to find my very own Barbie House - to this day I have no idea where my parents found it because it wasn't your standard house, it was a mansion. It was not in any catalogue I had seen, and I was up on my Barbie gear so I knew Santa thought I was special.
As lovely as those are, it was neither.
My favourite Christmas memory would have to be when I was at school in England, in 1992. I can't believe it was 20 years ago now. I had never celebrated Christmas in England before, but it felt like I was home because of my mother’s two sisters, and my cousins. My other cousins from New Zealand, whom I happened to have spent Christmas with in their home country in 1988, were also in England at the time (my mother had three sisters and two brothers, all spread out around the globe) so we were quite a large group that year. I remember looking about the sitting room at one point during the holidays, surrounded by my mother's family - my family - wondering if I would ever get to spend Christmas with all of them again. It was a very special time, and I knew then, in those hours, how exceptionally rare that moment was, and I cherished it, placing it into a corner of my mind forever as a pivotal moment in my life.
You need to understand my mother’s family – they hail from Liverpool and as everyone knows, Liverpulian’s have a wickedly dry sense of humour. We were not short of laughs at any point over the holidays, we had fun. I did miss my parents, brothers and my father's side of the family that I grew up with in Canada, but knew I would have many Christmases ahead with them, so I wasn’t too torn up about missing Christmas at home. I went back to school on the 2nd of January, happy and content, and full of great memories of a wonderful Christmas - this is one of my favourite Christmas memories.
Fast forward 19 years to last Christmas. I went back to England, but not for the Holidays. My mother’s youngest sister had been sick. She left us all behind on the 14th of December, and we buried her on the 23rd. And as I looked about the sitting room on Christmas Day, it was clear to myself and others someone was missing. But before the melancholy struck we pulled out some pictures – and there they were – the memories of a Christmas that felt like yesterday. That joyous Christmas when we were all together, when we were all happy, and when we were all healthy and walking somewhere upon this earth.
When I think of my happiest Christmas memory I think of Christmas 1992. It is always the one that comes to mind. And it will live in my memory forever.