The United Kingdom
It’s me again.
So, it’s nearly Christmas Day (Ha, like you need ME to tell you THAT!). Hope you’re not too stressed. Tight deadlines can be such a bind, huh?
I bet you’re observing what’s happening in households all across the country right now…
Judith at number 37 will be peering across the road through her starched net curtains whilst screeching at her husband “Dennis, DENNIS! Barbara and Frank have just put up another flashing Rudolph. Go to B&Q IMMEDIATELY and get some more lights…they’re NOT outdoing us THIS year!”
Graham at number 45 will be handing over his already overstretched credit card to pay for his wife’s Christmas present – a brand new all-singing all-dancing vacuum cleaner – “She WILL be pleased” he mumbles in satisfaction. Poor Graham, his bags will be packed for him quicker than you can say “Ho Ho Ho”.
And Sharon at number 24 will be eagerly anticipating Mike getting down on bended knee sometime over this festive period (well, he’d BETTER do, because she’s told all her friends now)…and if it’s not the biggest diamond ring she alluded to in the jeweller’s window four months ago, then woe betide you Mike!
Then, on the 25th…
Mums (and dads, of course) will be exiled into the kitchen for the day. Fussing that there’s not enough food to go around – even though there’s probably enough to feed the whole street – for a week! Turkeys sat dehydrating in the overworked oven for a longer time than their actual lifespan. Kitchens full of steam and facials subsequently acquired as a result of the pan of sprouts that’ve been boiling for 6 hours.
Who needs a £150 pot of fancy face cream when you’ve got sprouts?
Sprouts could be the future of the beauty industry! Hey, I think I’ve hit on something there!
Then there’s the dads (yes, I am gender stereotyping here, but just for effect, so bear with me on this one) who’ll be sporting their new tartan sheepskin lined slippers, snoring open mouthed in their favourite chair after a little too much port during the Queen’s speech.
Great Aunt Doris will be making her annual visit and upsetting the apple cart again (as is tradition) because the dog keeps jumping up on her new frock and she doesn’t shy away in airing her grievances that the Christmas pudding “wasn’t as good as last year”.
The younger adult members of the family will be rapidly doing the rounds of clan members’ households and competing with each other as to how much free food they can gobble down their gullets.
Then, when the bucketful of food is consumed and the conversation runs dry, there’ll be the game of charades that gets a little bit too competitive…the fake smiles of delight will be unwaveringly held on receipt of the most hideous and unwanted present, EVER…then everyone will settle down whilst nursing their indigestion to watch the telly before it’s time to go home/bed.
It’s a positively capitalist Utopia is this Christmas malarkey….poor baby Jesus hardly gets a look in these days!
Oh, I’m SO VERY thankful that we choose not to conform to that typical Christmas day here at Broccoli HQ.
So, all that said Santa, here’s some more stuff that I’d like this Christmas…
- I want to go Christmas shopping with Hannah so SHE can choose what presents SHE’D like to buy for her friends and family (although she doesn’t currently have any ‘friends’, as such) and then unsuccessfully attempt to dissuade her that “Imogen really doesn’t need an espresso machine this year darling, she is only five years old, after all!” and (opting for the cheapest option) try and suggest that it may be more prudent to buy her some hair clips or even a book instead.
- In fact, whilst we’re on the subject of shopping, I’d like NOT to have to squeeze Hannah and her wheelchair safely through the hordes of frenzied shoppers and the ridiculously narrow aisles and risk us getting ‘collared’ by the security guard on our exit from the shop because we’ve unknowingly accumulated a plethora of Christmas accoutrements which have attached themselves to her wheelchair.
- I also want to not risk us both contracting something hideous whilst attempting to change her nappy in an unsanitary public toilet which lacks even the most basic of equipment for disabled people. “Oh, didn’t we have such fun scrabbling around on our hands and knees in that filthy, malodorous loo?” Said no parent/carer, EVER!. Have you ever chosen NOT to put your handbag/shopping bags down because they might get dirty/wet/whatever? If so, you’d feel as passionately as I do about this subject…and it’s not just my bag I’m having to put on the floor, it’s also MY CHILD!. Oh dear, rant alert! Better stop there…
- I want her to roll her eyes and snort in derision and give me ‘THAT look’ – You know the one; it’s the look that 5 year olds and teenagers normally give that silently suggests ‘YOU. KNOW. NOTHING. YOU ARE OLD AND HAVE NEVER HAD A LIFE’ – when I say something totally wrong about the latest film offering by Disney.
- I want to be blissfully oblivious to the pitying or just blatant stares when we’re out and about or hear the “awh’s” (as in, “it’s such a pity”). Yes, we ARE aware. Unfortunately.
- I want us to decorate our Christmas tree together so it looks all quirky and sparkly and totally OTT. In fact, I’d like us to HAVE a Christmas tree. Unfortunately, as you know Santa, we can’t have one, because Hannah would pull it over on herself or even eat it – I KID YOU NOT!
- I want to have a conversation with her about you being real, because you ARE Santa…of course you are! How could anyone doubt that fact?
- I want to come up with a better answer than “Erm, I don’t know” when people ask what she wants for Christmas or whether she’s even looking forward to Christmas.
- I want to watch her skilfully riding up and down the neighbourhood on her new bike on Christmas day – whilst insisting on wearing her lucha libre mask, her princess outfit AND her ice skates. I would most definitely champion her eclecticism whilst being mindful of health and safety – obviously!.
- I’d like us to go out spontaneously for the whole day, without a care, and not worry about a disruption to our usual routine or what we needed to take with us.
- I want her to have Christmas presents that she can ACTUALLY play with (unsupervised) and not worry about them breaking within 5 minutes or risk her choking.
- I want people to be able to buy AFFORDABLE toys for their kids and not get ripped off by the extortionate prices often charged when something has a disabled ‘label’ on it – as is often the case.
- I want to be totally aggrieved because I’ve traipsed for miles just to get her the toy that she wanted, only to watch her on Christmas day shunning the toy, but then cutting the cardboard packaging up in order to make a puppet show out of it.
- I want to hear her sing (or even watch her sign) a Christmas carol
- I want to snuggle on the sofa and get all sentimental and teary whilst watching “Miracle on 34th Street” or laugh together at “Elf” or “Shrek” or anything at all, for that matter.
- I want to watch her open the doors each day on her advent calendar and be able to eat the chocolate without it setting off her reflux.
- On the subject of chocolate, I want to watch her struggle out of the school gates whilst trying to manage not dropping a half ton of chocolate selection boxes (all bought for her by her friends) whilst daddy strongly advises that their parents consider “shopping more selectively, say perhaps at Hotel Chocolat, next year?” – he’s sick of curly wurlies – as come January, he’ll never be away from the dentist!
- I want the option of juggling the visits to family members on Christmas day – no one has the foggiest (unless they walk in our shoes) about how difficult the logistics are of having a child with additional needs.
- I want a time machine so that I can return to past events and change them, for the better. I want to be by my side during the times when Hannah was born, when she was diagnosed, when I watched her heart stop on the monitor. I want to feel my reassuring hand on my shoulder and whisper to myself, “Be strong Annie. You WILL get through this. I promise”. And alongside the rather more serious and traumatic incidents of the past, I’d also particularly like to change the time when I permitted Jason Dickinson to snog my face off at a Christmas party in my late teens… I didn’t anticipate glandular fever being in my Christmas stocking THAT year…Thanks for that pal…I still owe you one! Grrr!.
- I want people to get a tiny bit of perspective on what Christmas is ACTUALLY about rather than running around and getting stressed, buying presents that they can’t really afford or trampling all over each other and fighting in the sales. That’s not what Christmas is all about. Well, that’s not how we roll at Broccoli HQ anyway.
- I want to extract a tiny drop of pure unconditional love and that lioness-like protectiveness that oozes out of my every pore and get a swanky Swiss laboratory to mass produce it – I’d make a fortune!
But, you know what Santa?, even though I know you can’t help me with any of that stuff, nor could all the money in the world buy me what I want, I already have the perfect gift right here at Broccoli HQ – I have my girl.
My wonderful, inspiring, fun loving, quirky and unique little girl – who’s been the greatest teacher of the pricelessness of life and love, ever.
However, if you’re passing Broccoli HQ, you could just drop me off a little something….anything really…I’d be ever so grateful.
See you around Santa
p.s. Santa, please help people spare a thought during this festive period for those who’ve lost their loved ones recently: like Dawn, Super Josh’s mum, whom I’ve never met but have followed their journey over the past few months, and my 2 friends who’ve both lost their dads. I know I will.
p.p.s. Finally, a HUGE thank you goes out to each and every one of you, all over the world (literally!), who’ve read my posts, liked them and shared them, since I started writing in January. I can’t begin to tell you how much it means. Thank you, thank you and a million times THANK YOU!. So, here’s my attempt at wishing you a Happy Christmas…I hope my spelling is correct. If not, I’ll just have to blame the internet!
Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Happy Christmas everyone. Here’s hoping the coming year is a happy and healthy one for you all.