Tim’s blog: From a prayer in The Downs to funky slippers

Lifestyle / Wed 18th Dec 2013 am31 11:06am

By Tim O’Connell

Christmas? What does it mean exactly? I know for me it lost the religious meaning a very long time ago. And if i’m honest I think most people’s idea of Christmas now is Santa Claus and not Jesus Christ, Mary and Joseph. However, over the last few years when it gets to December, I get this warm fuzzy feeling inside, and for me anyway, this time of year has become very special.

Over the years I have spent Christmas in a variety of places: Sisters houses, at my granny’s in Ireland many years ago and more recently in my favourite place, my home in Harlow, with my wife and children who I guess at nearly 21 and 23 are not really children anymore right?

Age regardless, they both enjoy Christmas as much as I do. I often say for me December including Christmas and up to the new year, is a little like a 32 day long birthday. Whether everyone feels the same I am not sure, but even though I am not a fan of the cold and love the summer very much with it’s sun filled long days, bbq’s and sitting in the garden with a coffee and reading the latest James Patterson novel. For me, this time of year holds something very special. Out come the funny jumpers, Christmas work parties begin and the mood of a lot of people seems to improve a little slightly. Or at least that’s how it appears to me?

As a kid i swear we used to have hotter summers and get a lot more snow this time of year? The ice rink that was St Marks secondary school play ground. I guess somebody slipped and fell and broke something, as one day a ban started on sliding on it and I think salting of it began? I may be wrong.The 70’s were a very long time ago now.

Let me take you back to Harlow in say 1971 so I was 6, and I remember sitting on the top flight of stairs in our town house in The Downs and saying a little prayer to Santa Claus in the hope that the toys I wanted that year, I would get. For a few years after I swear he was listening as everything I said while I sat on that step I actually got. Madness right? Later in life I deemed that someone must have been listening to me from around the corner writing everything I said down, but even so, boy did it make Christmas day special. I actually also believe that was the year I hid behind the mini bar(I’m sure some of you remember those) after slipping down stairs in the hope of catching Santa dropping off our presents. I think I either fell asleep and was carried up to bed or I had in fact dreamed the whole thing. Either way the memory of it makes me smile. Such innocence making one day of the year just so magical.

And then of course you grow up a little each year and the meaning of Christmas changes a little. I’ve always been quite simple and since having children, staying at home and just seeing the kids playing all day long with their new toys make me happy. Now of course they are older, and they have given us their own little ideas on what makes the day special for them. Whether it’s the now mandatory watching Home Alone 1 and 2 and now perhaps added from last year “Jingle All The Way”. Scrooged is also another favourite of mine and one film I have to see this time of year or it just seems like I have missed something. Do you get me? Our special trip to Tesco’s to spent a fortune on chocolates,crisps and other seasonal goodies in readiness for the days around the 25th and then on presenting of our vouchers save about £200 off the total. Thank you Tesco.Every little helps right..

You never really think when you are little how it will change for you as you grow older. I’m lucky perhaps to have had children and so have gone through the special moments of hiding the kids pressies up in the loft and then on Christmas Eve having to climb up there risking breaking my neck on the rickety old step ladder and bring them down in readiness for the kids to face the big pile on Christmas morning. I remember one year we had to rush out the week before as suddenly my daughter let us know the best present of a barbie house was now all she really wanted, meaning we had to shoot down to Toy R Us and put right our mistake of thinking we pretty much had her presents sorted. Another year, on sneaking in her room and putting some small gifts on her bed to play with first thing, giving us perhaps a few extra minutes in bed, she actually woke up and said “He has been” rather joyfully.Thankfully we managed to quieten her down and she went back off to sleep. The idea of the day starting at just after midnight, really was not something we would have enjoyed.

Now we get a yearly list of things they would like and we try work off that list. It’s a very special day in our house and having a list to work off can only help insure the day is even better. I still have a couple of things to pick up myself so will have to venture into Harlow Town centre and pick up a couple more things. Catch the lights for the last time and maybe do as i always do and pop in Costa’s for a coffee. I’m a little late this year but should be all done and wrapped by the end of the week. Funny how every year you think you will get it all done early, but never do right?

I no longer work, but while I was still able to, the closer I got to this time of year meant the nearing of 10 blissful days off work. Now regardless of not working, I now look forward to my wife and kids finishing work and then the holiday spirit can truly get under way. The only chore we have is dropping off the in laws gifts and then we are done for the holiday. I cant wait. And even though as a child we never got any presents or gifts at any other time of the year apart from birthdays and Christmas which made these days wonderful, now we can buy things we need or want when ever we like, but Christmas still excites me.Even if it means un wrapping a pair of funny pants or socks. My favourite gift is normally a funky pair of slippers which with cardboard and tape I somehow make them last till i get another pair on Christmas day. I care not what I get what so ever, as long as I can spend it with the people I love most. It’s all about family after all.

Merry Christmas and God bless us, everyone.

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