As I watch this morning’s BBC breakfast and their focus on a little boy who has received a liver from his dad, I am reminded once again of the importance of carrying a donor card, joining the donor register, and of course talking to your family about your wishes.
I have a very straightforward view of organ donation, it is quite simply this. If someone you loved needed an organ to survive, you would accept one. It therefore should be our collective responsibility to be willing to donate. After all, if your child was ill would you really say no?
The reality is right now, today, people will die because there are not enough organs. We as a society, and as individuals, have the power to change that through our decisions.
And on that very serious note, I will now get off my soap box and deal with the chaos of family life in an appreciative manner. I will tidy the toys, clean the bathroom and wash the clothes, and be so very grateful that my loved ones are healthy.
As the year comes to an end inevitably it means we sit and reflect on the year that has gone, I love memories and dwelling on the highlights, sitting sifting through photographs and marvelling about what the children have accomplished.
When it comes to planning for the year ahead though, I am distinctly less organised! I get things done, but efficient I am most certainly not. I tend to adopt a planning wastes time approach, instead focusing on what needs doing there and then. Think headless chicken, rather than serene swan and you’ll probably be pretty close to the mark!
This year however, I have decided to adopt a slightly different approach and commit my goals for the year to paper (well to the screen anyway). I figure if it makes me even a tiny bit more organised then that can only be a good thing.
My self set missions therefore are thus:
1) Plan out my time, making sure there is time for work (I’m pretty awesome at that so that will be easy) and play (I’m much less awesome at this so will need to be disciplined with myself). My goal is to be able to turn off all my electronic devices between 3.30 and 7.00 in the evening, so that I can enjoy having quality time with the children once Number One gets home from school in the evening. In reality this part of the evening is manic anyway, and compartmentalising will make me feel much less guilty and also hopefully much more productive.
2) Try to focus on one job at a time (I’m utterly terrible at this), and usually have at least three things on the go at any one time. I tell myself this makes me get things done more quickly but actually in reality (yes Other Half, I know you’ve been telling me this for years) it just makes me make more mistakes and therefore makes things take longer than they would if I concentrated on doing one job at a time.
3) Cuddle my children and tell them I love them as often as possible. They are growing too fast and before I know it they’ll no longer want to sit and cuddle, I need to make the most of it whilst I can, and remember the real reasons why I don’t want to go back to full time teaching. There is no point being here, if I’m not present.
4) Do the things I want to do. This year I am going to write about what I want to write about, I am not going to think about numbers or search engines, I’m going to write purely and simply from the heart. They are the posts I enjoy writing the most, and hopefully they are the ones people enjoy reading the most too. I am also (get ready for a random comment here) determined to try quilt making. I’ve wanted to do this for many years and never get round to it, so I’m hoping that announcing it publically will make me actually do it. If I haven’t at least started a quilt by the end of 2017 you can all hold me to account!
5) Improve my technology. My blog is in the process of going self-hosted, hopefully in the next couple of days. If I’m going to make it the place I want it to be, I’m going to have to stop being terrified of pressing a wrong button and causing the whole thing to explode. This is going to be my biggest challenge without a doubt, but I know I’ll feel a huge sense of achievement if I can master it.
6) Make a difference in the world in whatever small way I can. One of the things I love the most about teaching is that I get to help people, now I’m doing that less I need to look for other ways I can justify my existence in the world. So I’m going to be on the lookout this year for ways I can change the world for the better, on a personal scale if not a global one. After all, even if you only make a difference to one person, that’s still more than worth doing.
How about you? What do you want to focus on in 2017?
So, on Christmas Eve, I was tagged to do the Christmas Tag, and I figured it’s only the day after Boxing Day, so it’s still Christmas and therefore technically acceptable to join in, right?
So whether you love Christmas or just fancy getting to know a little bit more about you I hope you’ll enjoy it. Please do feel free to join in with any of the questions you fancy and pop your answers on or Facebook page, I’d love to read them.
1) What is your favourite Christmas film?
Am I allowed two? Technically my favourite Christmas film is Santa Claus the Movie, I like to watch it at least once a year, ideally on Christmas Eve to get me in the mood for Christmas. I love the feel good factor and general anything is possible ethos, and of course who can resist the reindeer! However, at this time of year I also love to watch Pollyanna (though technically I’m not sure it really counts as a Christmas film). We started playing her ‘Glad Game’ many years ago as students when our heating broke in the middle of winter, and it’s kind of stuck as my general life ethos ever since. You can see most things in a positive light hard enough if you try and the world feels a much nicer place when you do so.
2) Have you ever had a white Christmas?
I’ve had lots where there has been the odd flutter of snow here and there, but never a complete white out. I suppose that’s probably the perfect balance really, just enough to be magical but not enough to prevent being able to see family on the big day.
3) Where do you usually spend your holiday?
I like to spend Christmas at home, though we did visit Peru one year which was utterly incredible. Both our families are invited to visit and we love it when they do, but it’s nice to be at home for the day so the children can play with their new things.
4) What is your favourite Christmas song?
Last Christmas. No lovely sentimental reason why, it’s just a song I really love.
5) Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
No, all the presents just appear my magic on Christmas morning in our house, they haven’t yet been delivered on Christmas Eve.
6) Can you name all of Santa’s Reindeer?
Of course. I can never remember how to boil an egg, and although I know one line from many songs I can sing very few all the way through, but I do most certainly know the important things like Reindeer!
7) What holiday transitions did you most look forward to this year?
I always love the magic of Christmas Eve, we spend it quietly and it’s wonderful to see the children putting out the mince pie and carrots. Even putting them to bed is exciting with the impending excitement of the following day.
8) Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
Real, always real. I love the smell, and the Other Half panders to me on this one even though the pine needles drive his mad.
9) What is your favourite Christmas sweet treat?
Christmas cake, I love it, especially if it’s really sticky. I’m not keen on icing but love marzipan, but hey Number One is always happy to oblige and eat extra icing.
10) Do you like giving or receiving gifts better?
Since I’ve had children definitely giving, there’s nothing like seeing their faces when they unwrap things they love on Christmas morning.
11) What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
A necklace from the Other Half, not long after we started dating. I’ve worn it every day since.
12) What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
This is an easy one, anywhere with the name Disney in it would be good. If zi had to pick one it would have to be the Disney Magic cruise ship, some of my happiest moments have been onboard but I’ve never been at Christmas and I’m sure it’s incredible.
13) Are you a pro-wrapper or do you fail miserably?
I’m not sure I reach pro standards but I do love wrapping, well maybe not so much the wrapping itself, but definitely the beautifying part, I love using real ribbon to give the presents under the tree a traditional feel.
14) Most memorable holiday moment?
When I was around ten my mum made me two porcelain dolls, I thought they were wonderful. Christmas Day turned into a Christening with my Great-Nana officiating. All my childhood Christmases were perfect, I think this one stands out just because it was slightly different. I can only hope that the Christmases we provide for our children are remembered with as much fondness as I remember mine.
15) What made you realise the truth about Santa?
I’ve always known the truth, he’s the most generous, kind and magical man on earth. Have you not seen Santa Claus the Movie? All the proof you need is right there.
16) Do you make New Year’s resolutions? And do you stick to them?
I don’t tend to make resolutions, but I think the new year does reinvigorate me to try to be a better person and just generally focuses me on trying to make a success of whatever I am trying to achieve.
17) What makes the holidays special for you?
I love spending time with my family, seeing people we don’t often get to see and chatting to others we don’t make time to at other parts of the year. But I also love taking photographs, making memories that we can look back on in years to come. Of course I take photos all year round but I think somehow the ones taken at Christmas mean more, somehow they just have an extra sprinkling of magic.
Today I have helped my daughter to pack her bag, all those gifts I spent so many months carefully choosing are now heading on their way to you. The others – the things that would not fit in the bag – are left discarded. She is mad with me, because she couldn’t bring them all. Her drawers are emptier now, but still she is mad. I’ve made her bring sensible clothes. Clothes she didn’t want to bring. She is sad that they’ve taken the room of things she would rather have brought. She’s sad that I’ve made her, I am the unreasonable one.
It isn’t the way I would have chosen to spend the day, I wanted to play with her, laugh with her, hold her. I wanted today to be an extension of Christmas. I didn’t want to share.
When I lay there giving birth to her. I did not sign up to share her. She was my baby, she still is my baby, and so much of me hates that today I am packing her up and sending her to you. I hate that I am losing her for the rest of the holidays. This should be my time and instead it is not. Instead it is yours.
You’d think that over the years sharing her would have become easier. You’d think I would have learnt to enjoy the peace. It hasn’t though – in fact in many ways it has become harder. As the years pass, I become oh so aware of how precious the moments are. There is so little of her childhood left, this is the last year she will be a believer, and I am missing that. I am giving you that gift. Giving you what I want most. Giving you my daughter. I hope so much you appreciate that time, that you love the moments in the way I would.
I hope you know how hard it is to let her go. I hope you know how much I want to hold onto her tightly and keep her here with me. I don’t want to be five hours away. You made the choice to go so far away. Before, when you were near, it was easy. A day here, two there. I didn’t like it, but I had grown used to it, grown used to sharing her just for a little while.
Now she is gone. She will return of course. But by then it will be time to go back to school. This, the last Christmas of her childhood will be over. I will have missed it. You chose to move five hours away. She didn’t choose that. I didn’t choose that. But we are the ones paying the price.
I put her in your car, I smiled, I waved, I told her to be good. She is excited, to see you, to see her dad, to see her little sister, to see her other home. And I am happy for her, I know how much she loves you all, I know how much she’s missed you. I know you will take care of her, I know she will have fun.
But I wish for me, she wasn’t going. I wish my heart wasn’t breaking. I wish she was here at home, building her lego, reading her books, eating chocolate on the sofa. Boxing Day is too soon. She should still be here with us. It is still Christmas.
But you have her, and that is the way it will be. I will not stop her coming. She needs you in her life just as much as she needs me. I may not like it, but I do understand it.
But please whilst you have her remember this, from one mum to another. She is my baby, just as your daughter is yours. She may be nine, she may think she’s all grown up, but she’s still a little girl. Please hold her tight and kiss her goodnight, then give her an extra one just for me. Feed her ice cream for breakfast, or sweets for supper – break the rules once or twice, next Christmas will come, but we won’t get this one back. When she’s angry, or loud, know that is when she needs you most. Make her feel wanted, make here feel loved, show her that you miss her now you’re so far away.
Keep her safe for me. Love her lots. Then send her back whole. Make sure she knows you’ll all be there missing her and waiting for her to come back.
I got to spend a perfect day with the whole family.
We managed to combine both our families so no-one was left out, yet still have special time with smaller numbers of people around.
The children were more than slightly spoilt, but appreciated every moment.
Number One hasn’t had a meltdown, for the first Christmas I can remember. She has been calm and relaxed, spaced her presents out throughout the day and even managed to eat. Spending the day with her has been a true pleasure.
The Other Half has made sure the day has run seamlessly, despite having a rotten cold. I am rubbish at remembering to offer people drinks, he always remembers. Our guests weren’t subjected to dehydration, which they would have been if I’d have been in control.
Number Two has entertained us all throughout the day; climbed in boxes, eaten wrapping paper and tested out the taste of every new toy.
We still have Christmas dinner to look forward to. As it was Number One’s first Christmas I decided to do a buffet today as we had eleven people. It’s lovely to think that we still have a ‘real’ Christmas lunch to look forward to tomorrow.
Oh, and most importantly of all, I got lots of new socks! After all, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without socks, would it?