If you’ve been reading Boob in a Box for long enough, you won’t be surprised by me telling you that I’m an atheist who loves Christmas. Whilst the festive season holds no religious significance for me, I love this time of year because it’s all about family, friends, food and festivity. (As an aside, I am now wondering why it is that all my favourite words start with ‘f’? Fuck knows.)
The past few years, Christmas has offered up a mixed bag of blessings .. and other stuff. December 2012 I was in the middle of chemo, so spent Christmas Day bald, sweaty and unable to eat the fresh prawns on offer. My beautiful friend Kylie flew in from interstate and wrapped all Hugh’s Christmas presents while I lay in bed. I resisted all offers to help make Christmas lunch, and once it was on the table collapsed into a chair from which I was, quite literally, unable to move for several hours. The following year we flew to beautiful Vanuatu the week before Christmas to mark the end of a very difficult year, and I remember flying home on Christmas Eve feeling like maybe, just maybe, I had some life ahead of me. In 2014 we had a pre-Christmas holiday in Thailand, sweating our arses off (not literally, unfortunately) and last year we did a driving holiday, ending up in Dave’s tiny hometown for Christmas.
This year we will be at home, where we are hosting extended family for a huge lunch. I am obsessed with food (see also: arse) and love searching for recipes, menu planning, preparing and cooking. For those playing along at home, on Sunday we’ll be having port and cranberry marinated turkey with sausage and parsnip stuffing, apricot glazed ham, beef Wellington with Madeira gravy, potatoes roasted in duck fat and various salads. For dessert I’m making a berry pavlova, after which I plan to stretch myself out under a shady tree and reflect on the year that was 2016.
First and foremost in my mind will be nine kids who this year lost their mums. I’ll be thinking about gorgeous little chubby-cheeked Jenny, who lost her mum Nat. I’ll be thinking about four beautiful kids – Piper, Matilda, Violet and Isaac – who lost their mum Antoinette. I’ll be thinking about Dakota, Indi, Tana and Georgie who today will attend the funeral of their mum Jules. And then I’ll look at my boy Hugh, who will, if Santa has gotten the many messages, be playing with a brand new Nintendo DS, and think about just how very, very fortunate we both are. I have been allowed to be a mother for four years since my diagnosis; I’ve seen Hugh start school (Jenny and Issac will both do that without their mums), I’ve travelled to different countries with my boy (something Jules so desperately wanted to do with her girls), I’ve seen him learn to read music, perfect his tennis backhand, be awarded certificates at school. I’ve prepared the same sandwich for his school lunch every single day, filled in excursion forms, checked his homework, held a bucket while he vomited, listened to his endless (and often tedious stories) about Pokemon, made birthday cakes, made beds, made friends with school mums for the purposes of play dates. I have lived the routine, and often monotonous, privilege that is denied to many. This Sunday, I am determined to take a quiet moment to be thankful, truly thankful, for this privilege.
Whatever your reason for the season, from me and my Boob in a Box, Merry Christmas.