I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned this previously, but I LOVE Christmas. Really, really love it. Actually, not just Christmas, but winter in general. Others complain about the dark nights, but I feel a tingle of excitement at that first smell of autumn in the air. As the sun becomes more watery and as the trees change colour, it is as if I have come home. The first fire lit in the grate is a celebration in itself, Saturday night TV gets better and at last it is away with bare legs and on with the wooly tights and boots. The pinnacle is, of course, the onset of Christmas. While I object to early shop displays or adverts, towards December, I get more excited. Making cakes is the the first step, the lists of presents, planning menus, decorating the house and listening to Christmas music. It never fails to delight me, to the irritation of those around me. The children are all the same even if my Ex is firmly in the Bah Humbug category.
Today I collected K from a late school session. As we drove home she reminded me that it is 30 November. Nearly, ahem, December. So, it must be about time for Christmas music, right? Even though L becomes alarmed at any Xmas music before December, K can’t wait. So we play our usual favourites from my iPod. The Rat Pack, Michael Buble, Glee and All I want For Christmas is You. This last one is our favourite because it ends Love Actually, the film we always watch after putting up the Christmas Tree.
We have so many rituals. But until you have a child with anorexia, you don’t realise how many of our rituals revolve around food. I am beginning to physically crave mince pies, port, or gin and tonic with Pringles. Or Satsumas. We have similar food each year. Christmas Eve is always home made soup, smoked salmon and salad. Christmas morning is pancakes, maple syrup and bacon, followed by present opening to champagne and fruit fizz for children. An early evening feast, prior to lying prone on sofas, managing a wafer thin mince pie or four. How will all this play out with L, and her rigid eating habits. I want to make an Xmas snack list, with exactly the same calories as her unit snack list, but I don’t think she would trust it. Will her familiar favourite meals traumatise her or make her remember what life was like. I realise I cannot even remember, after six or seven months what she looks like when she is enjoying eating. I can see a baby eating sweet potato purée with delight, and a toddler slurping ice cream, but I can’t think what the present grown up L would look like. Her advent calendar sits in the corner of the kitchen. Normally, it would be by her bed, waiting for tomorrow morning.
So much is at risk with this serious illness, that it seems churlish to mourn the loss of our previous Christmases. But these events, the family rituals that calibrate our lives, that turn our houses into our homes are more important to us than the unimaginable big events like death or serious illness. L loved Christmas, but I am not sure whether she will ever do so again.