Christmas is a time to think of loved ones and to miss those who are no longer with us.

I lost my Mum in 2009 and my Dad in 2012. I seem to have moved to that stage of grief where you enjoy the memories so much that the pain is almost cancelled out.

Christmas at home. I miss it. I was the baby of the family by 16 years and for many of my childhood years my two brothers lived elsewhere as young adults.

I loved the magic of Christmas and coming down and finding all the presents. There was always a huge pile. Weirdly I remember very few of them – the doll’s house my Dad’s friends made and a doll that tumbled after hours of Dad trying to get it to work. I got to open my presents first as we always did it in age order. The gifts were piled on chairs rather than under the tree.

The tree was the same one every year with decorations going back to the start of Mum and Dad’s marriage in 1950. It was a green and silver affair that always went up on my birthday with me seeing it as the treat of year to decorate it. It was also my job to put up the Christmas cards. I took both of these tasks incredibly seriously. Things had to be just so – an example would be some system that meant a Nativity Scene was followed by a robin was followed by a snowman and so on. I am sure nobody else card but I did.

My uncle bought me this marvellous Nativity set in a lovely pale wood. I loved arranging the figures and that Jesus was not put in his manger but miraculously appeared by Christmas morning.

Church was a huge part of Christmas whether Midnight or morning mass. Mum dressed me up as if I was a doll and I once famously caught fire when I got too near the candles in my fur coat.

I got used to waiting for a knock of the door on Christmas Eve. Often there would be a family drama with someone turning up in a crisis that my Mum and Dad would sort out. You just hoped that two warring family members would not both turn up with their tales of woe at the same time.

My brothers would come for Christmas although my oldest did not always do so and this broke Mum’s heart. It is always strange how the one who absents themselves seems the most loved of all. My Uncle would arrive in his sheepskin coat with presents wrapped in gold, silver, red and green shiny paper. His were always the best wrapped and the most unusual as he lived in London and travelled overseas a lot too.

Drink would flow. My family always had a drinks cabinet with a whole host of stuff in it including gin, dark rum, brandy and Dimple. Dad was well respected in the business world so used to arrive with bottles from organisations throughout December. My parents were not really wine drinkers till later in life. Sherry was the first tipple of the day and as I got older I liked the tradition of trying it in a special glass whilst not really enjoying the taste.

Mum spent most of her time running in and out of the kitchen. As a cook by trade, she loved showing just what she could do at this special time of year. If I am honest I think we were guilty of leaving her to it. Several years later, she downed tools so that she too could enjoy Christmas and we started dining out on Christmas Day. I have always admired her for that.

What do I actually remember of the lunch? I always had Heinz tomato soup as a starter by request. I can’t remember much of the main course apart from sprouts which I loved then and now. I was never a fan of real carrots, bread sauce or Christmas pudding all of which you had to eat at Christmas.

In the afternoon, there would be lots of playing with cards and draughts, sometimes chess. I remember getting Operation and that causing a lot of hilarity.

I think it is interesting to reflect on what I miss about Christmas at home.

1. The things that were the same every year from the brown soup bowls to the oval plates and the pink and white tureens filled with vegetables.

2. My plastic stocking with pictures of Christmas trees on it. This came out every year and there was always a coin at the bottom of it. I went mad when Mum did not put it up the year I started university.

3. I miss how Mum would go wild spray painting Honesty gold and silver as decorations.

4. I really miss that feeling of a community where generations had lived for years so people knew not only each other but also family histories. There was a sense that people knew where they fit. I think we lose that when we leave our home towns. I often question whether I might have been happier staying put. For us the community revolved around the Irish Nash Club, the Parochial Hall, church and the school.

5. I liked how I would be teased in little ways like when my brothers and uncle convinced me that the lemonade they gave me was actually a gin and tonic.

6. I miss the table and its white tablecloth with patterns in embroidered by my Mum.

7. I miss standing together in church as a family and how my Mum loved the carol “In the Bleak Mid Winter” and how we both loved “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”

8. I miss how daft Mum and Dad could be so we had so much laughter and fun interspersed with the odd drama to keep things interesting.

9. I miss how Mum always banned us watching the Queen’s speech.

10. I miss the days around Christmas. Boxing Day often found us at the coast with biscuit tins full of sausage rolls and Mum bringing a bottle of brandy out of her handbag to add to our coffees to warm us up. I miss going to see Auntie Margaret, Uncle Cyril and Sean and how Mum used to secretly enjoy how Margaret never could do the kitchen stuff anywhere near as good as Mum.

I find it enlightening that I do not remember the presents really but rather the time put into making them. I miss the people, the love and the laughter. How quickly it is gone. How naïve we are about that which is why it is so important to make great memories and ongoing traditions. And let’s look after Mums at Christmas who usually drive themselves into the ground to make it just as perfect they can.

I was such a lucky girl. And I realise as I write this that one day one of my children will also be remembering our Christmases and how the best things of all were the things we did every year or the things that cost nothing.

I will round this off with a little conversation between me and Him Indoors on Christmas Day.

Me “You are daft you are”

Him “So are you – that is why it works!”

I like to take time out as things settle down on Christmas Eve to write a message for bloggers. You see bloggers are a bit of a special breed who take time out to share goodwill online throughout the year. If you are lucky enough to meet them in person, they tend to be rather awesome, even if quietly so.

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So instead of sending Christmas cards when bloggers more often than not don’t have each other’s addresses or naming names and perhaps forgetting someone, see if you recognise yourself amongst the folks that are in my heart this Christmas.

1. The gorgeous and blushing young woman who sends me tokens which keep me going through the tough times. A special card stay in my handbag at all times. I hope we get to meet in 2015. You are such a generous spirit and far greater than you know.

2. To the sassy one who makes me laugh with her kick ass attitude and from whom I learn a lot.

3. The woman with the beautiful smile who helps me throughout the year and is always ready to lend a kind word. Her face is so stunning that I never actually notice her legs! I would invite myself to Christmas dinner at her house as something tells me she will produce the most tempting food.

4. My Fairy Godmother who I feel so blessed to have in my life. She changed my life so powerfully and I will be forever grateful. A beautiful relationship that works.

5. My heartfelt friend who I feel such trust in and I love our connection. Over the years we have learned we do not need to be in each other’s faces but we are always there when it matters. Love you for your campaigning spirit and for your naughty but nice streak.

6. The poet who does not know it who I got to meet this year for the first time and all too briefly. You looked amazing at BritMums Live and I know you did not realise quite how stunning at all. You are an inspiration as a mum and I am pleased you are taking more care of you too.

7. Lucky 7, one of the bloggers who gets me and who I go to bed with every night. I feel safe with you and that is not something I feel very often. I like your wicked sense of humour, a brain that does not know quite how exceptional it is and just the fact that get me and are you, real and true.

8. The warm, wise and impressive lady who is such a lovely spirit. We bonded initially having lost our very special mums and I like to think we connect on a deep level. Beautiful lady, gorgeous eyes, special soul.

9. A cheerful host who I am enjoying learning to know more this year. You make single parenting look mighty fine and carry life off with such aplomb.

10. To my constant support who seems to be in my corner all the time. You have faith in me when I waver and you don’t let me take any nonsense. You also show me just how a woman can take control of her life and shake things up a bit.

11. I think of the mums who have lost. I think of you so often and how random and cruel fate can be. You all take time out to help others when you have such challenges on a daily basis. I am delighted to see new hope for many of you this year. Special mention for the one whose hug at BritMums Live was a highlight of my year.

12. To the girl who is so like me that perhaps things go awry sometimes. Pleased that we both touch base still and hope we can get closer again in 2015.

13. To the teacher and spirited lady who helped me think that perhaps I am doing OK at home education.

14. To the force of nature who made it quite clear that of course I was capable of educating my own children. Said in such a matter of fact way that I believed it and this has changed our lives.

15. To a kindred spirit who wants the best for women and mums and has a crafty way of achieving that. Hope to connect more and more as the years go by.

16. To the lady who was so supportive when my husband was looking for work. I want to know more of you in 2015 as I think I neglected you a little once we started to get on our feet. You question yourself whilst others see that you are amazing.

17. To the one whose daughter I want my son to marry. You face such challenges and yet you care for others so well. You are a true giver, willing to go that extra mile even for an online friend.

18. To the woman who fears appearing on vlogs and yet should feel the fear and do it anyway.

19. To the woman with the hugest smile and stunning looks who always welcomes me and who perhaps gets me more that I thought at first.

20. To the blogger with the beautiful eyes who I would most like to buy me a Christmas present because I know it would be quirky and probably from a charity shop. You have made things so much easier for me on more than one occasion.

21. To the traveller who I feel a bond with even when we tend to only get about 10 minutes to talk to each other every year. That 10 minutes always means a lot.

22. To that feisty lady who has every reason to ignore me and yet always proves so helpful to the opposition. Glad we got to know the real us after that online hiccup.

23. To all the home-educating bloggers who give me hope, support and great ideas.

24. To the woman off the telly (no not that one, the other one!) who always seems to be watching when I wobble. Fond memories of 2013.

25. To someone who I hated for telling me I needed help and now I have the help I can see why she said it. Sometimes the messages we hate are the ones we need to hear most of all.

26. To all the grooving, groovy and striking mums. I enjoy our little online journeys together and love seeing how your lives change over the months and years.

27. To the mum in Glasgow who I love seeing happy and admire so much for showing that sometimes things are not good enough and that taking a leap of faith can bring wonderful things.

28. To all the bloggers who help me with my weight loss efforts. Often it is something you said that keeps me on track.

29. To the cocktail queen who made such brave choices this year. I sense you are still finding your way but I hope the destination is a fabulous one and I will be here backing you all the way.

30. To someone who described me a guru this year. I am pleased to know you and still find you a bit of an enigma.

31. To the bloggers who encourage me to take photographs. I swear those Sunday linkies can be almost like a meditation as I glimpse into the beauty of other people’s lives. I look more closely now so that I really see what is out there.

32. To a kindred spirit who was there all the time and I never knew it. So pleased to get to know you this year. Thanks for the huge parcel. I owe you one in 2015. I find you fascinating and want to get to know you more and more in 2015.

33. To the warm-hearted blogger who really does expect me to be vivacious. I promise to try harder to do this in real life in the New Year.

34. To the one who speaks her mind and who shares some of my *let’s not go with the crowd” views.

35. To my jacket buddy (the other one off the telly) because it is not all about her as she well knows but weirdly she comes in at number 35 which just happens to be my lucky number. You are a bit of the stunner on the outside but that is nothing compared to what is going on inside. You make me laugh a lot, you make me cry a little too, you inspire me to be a better me and what you don’t know how to do with a pillowcase really ain’t worth knowing.

36. To a lovely lunch companion who I understand a little better. Well done on having your say this year and for really making me think – always a very good thing.

37. To my tech rescuers – amazes me how people are so willing to help when you are friendly or not.

38. To the blogger who is no longer a blogger but still a very special friend. We will meet in 2015, we will, we will, we will! Your emails are a tonic in a mad world.

39. To my “first” blogger – they do say the first is always special and you are. I love your depth and wisdom.

40. To the lady who I would probably most want to go to church with on Christmas morning. Little did you know it but years ago I think you started the process of me putting myself together again. I love watching where your life takes you.

41. To the young blogger who has faced such enormous challenges. You keep having your say even if others don’t appreciate that you have the right to do so.

42. To another one off the telly (what is it about bloggers and telly?!) who I am pleased to have met and who is so not up herself – always a very good thing.

43. To the talented lady who made me blog look so pretty this year.

44. To the unique, feisty, witty and intelligent lady who I am determined to get to know better in the coming year. What you said to me at BritMums Live meant the world to me. No award is better than those words. Thank you.

45. To the photographer with the hugest smile whose soul is even prettier.

46. To another beautiful smile lady who is so giving sharing vital information with me this year and inspiring me to move forwards in terms of putting myself out there.

47. To the blogger who is so very different from me yet we share the joys and challenges of parenting tweens and teens. Would love to spend time with you as I think the conversation would be good.

48. To the bloggers who encouraged my creative writing and took time out to read an extract of my novel.

49. To all the bloggers where I got all shy or daunted when I was in the same room as you. Sometimes it all gets a bit too much for me. I stand. I try to work up the courage to speak to you and I bottle it. I bottle it less these days and things can only get better in 2015.

50. To the bloggers I have lost sight of a bit this year. It is so easy to do with so many blogs to read and other things that need my focus. Thinking of you at this special time of year and trying to work out a system so that I connect more with the people that matter in 2015.

51.. To the many bloggers who realise it does not actually cost you much at all in terms of time or effort to support good causes via your blogs.

52. To all the bloggers who I do not know well. You are all important because you are using your voices powerfully to express your truths and often help others whether you know it or not.

53. To the bloggers who I engage with via BritMums whether on social networks, at BritMums Live as I try to find your badge or welcome you to a room or as I read your competition entries. Apologies for the times I get things wrong and thanks so much for not picking up on my cringe worthy moment of the year when I tweeted “Great willies!”

54. Finally to the bloggers who just don’t “get” me. I am now growing older and wiser and realising this is perfectly normal and not a reflection on you or me. Wishing you lots of love and laughter this festive season.

55. To all those who comment on my blog – every one still means a huge amount.

Well, did you recognise yourself in that lot?

You may appear once or more.

I like to think this is my little Christmas celebration of blogging.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Christmas filled with life, love and laughter.

If Christmas cannot be fabulous this year, remember it is just a day, as long as any other and you will get through it. There is support out there as you know both from organisations and from lovely souls down the road or online. It is a sign of strength to reach out for that support.

If things go wrong, so long as you are breathing, giggling and with loved ones, you are blessed and will use the mishaps as blog fodder in the New Year.

If I have missed anyone out, blame the mulled wine or much more likely the fact that you don’t see yourself as quite the amazing person you are. And we all are, each and every one.

Mum Muddling Through
Cuddle Fairy

I lost just half a pound this week.

I am happy enough with this as it was my time of the month.

When I spotted I was not losing, I had a burger. It made me feel so ill and it is like my body rejects unhealthy food now. I also fell into the trap of eating children’s pasta leftovers this week.

So it is a loss and that brings me to over 13 pounds now so I am on target to have lost a stone by the time we enter the New Year.

I now only have one pair of jeans that will stay up so clearly the inches are going. I also notice that my boobs are looking bigger and my waist is looking slimmer. Him Indoors seems to be noticing this too! I am also pleased to report that my sleeves are a little looser too.

My next challenge is to get through Christmas and to maintain or increase the weight loss.

Thanks to all my online supporters – all your back up makes a huge difference and keeps me on track.

I am very late posting my reasons to be cheerful this week.

We have had a very stressful few days and then today all that stress disappeared when we got some lovely news. Bit of a close call for a Merry Christmas but we look all set now.

Anyway, here are last week’s reasons for cheerfulness because before I know it we will be ready for this week’s.

1. I had one of my most lovely birthdays. I think a lot of this was to do with my change in attitude since starting on the Prozac. Before the family surfaced, I had already opened cards and a home-made gift from a lovely blogger friend. I had an email from another with a poem and even Google seemed to want to make the momentous occasion. My daughter got me all things pink. My son got me 4 Wispa bars and I have more pressies to claim from the rest of the family this week. My brother came to see us and we all laughed as he had totally forgotten it was my birthday. I was not going to say anything but my daughter did! We talked and laughed and then we waved him on is way to Mauritius.

2. I lost weight again so Tuesday was a happy day.

After that it got very tense indeed for reasons that I prefer not to go into.

Today you find me chilling on the sofa, watching Christmas telly and decorating the house in a full on tacky Christmas way.

When I finish this post, I will be savouring some lovely soup and making some last-minute Christmas plans.

A rollercoaster of a week but I am still here and still smiling,

I have lost 5 pounds this week! I am only on week 4 of my weight loss journey and have lost 12 and three quarter pounds.

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I had hoped for 2 pounds and would have settled for one pounds so I am over the moon.

It was my birthday at the weekend so I allowed myself various treats including chocolate, cake, a couple of glasses of wine and very naughtily 2 mini pork pies.

There was also an Indian takeaway at some point in the week.

I guess this goes to prove that it is what you do most of the time that really matters. For me, that now involves lots of vegetables and lots of fish.

My proudest moments this week were giving away 3 of the 4 Wispa bars my son got me for my birthday and ordering poached eggs when out to lunch. Oh and resisting cream left on my daughter’s dessert plate which was screaming at me.

I finally got my diagnosis after becoming ill back in October. I have prediabetes and apparently this can be reversed so that is my mission now after such an important wake-up call on the health front.

The nurse upset me a bit when she said I have a long way to go. However then I woke up and remembered that about 3 years ago it was a big deal for me to go out to the next village and yet not long after that I flew to America. Baby steps lead to big change. I know this and I will remain positive.