It's amazing how time can trick you really. I can barely remember all that I did yesterday, and it feels a million miles away, but this date 5 years ago is seared into my memory forever, and feels just a moment away. On 7th December one of the most important people in my life was snatched away, and it was unexpected, but at the same time we knew it would happen. Five days before this, my Granddad had a stroke that rendered him unconscious, and he never woke up again. Six days before this I had seen him and he was perfectly fine. So we ended up in a conundrum: he was gone, and yet not gone. There were no goodbyes, or at least none that we shared together. The goodbye was one-sided, me and my sister talking to him whilst my nan held our hands and gave me one of his hankies to treasure. So you see, we knew it was going to happen, but for only a few days, that in reality felt like hopeful minutes. And today, five years, on, celebrating Christmas with my Granddad, or Grandy as he was to us, feels only a few seconds away. The memories are almost tangible, and Christmas has never been the same.
Every family has its heart, and at Christmastime this becomes even more obvious. My Grandy was the heart of our Christmas. Living with my nan only a few minutes' walk away from our home, we would be at their house by nine am every single Christmas. And he found ways to make it special every year. Going over to see the decorations during December was the best, especially as he put up a Santa clock that sung every hour on the hour, much to our delight and my nan's annoyance. Christmas day was even better: despite having very little money to spend he made sure that everyone had the best time and we all had our favourite things. Whether it was buying cherryade so I could have some with breakfast, or letting my sister pull some extra crackers because she had lost her one, he would make sure we all had a grin on our faces. I'll never forget the joy we felt at being his 'little elves' by handing out the presents to our family on Christmas day - at least 10 of us would be crammed into their little front room to do this.
Now however, Christmas has lost a little sparkle, a little magic, and has gotten a whole lot quieter. My Grandy was one of those people with a big booming laugh, which would fill the whole room and make everyone chuckle along too. Now my nan's house is far too quiet, and no one can quite fill the empty space he's left behind. The special touches are gone, and we all want to continue with the traditions he left us, but we just can't do it without him there.
This year will be different. This is the first year I won't be spending at home, surrounded by masses of family, the second year with my parents being separated, and the sixth year without Grandy. And I'm determined to make new traditions, in the spirit of his traditions. I won't ever really spend a Christmas without my Grandy. Indulging on too many sweets, pulling all the crackers you could ever want and falling asleep after Christmas dinner are all things that he's left me with, alongside many others. This will be the first year me and my boyfriend will be spending the day together, despite it being our fifth Christmas as a couple. And I am determined to bring Grandy's tradition and his spirit to the day, so that my boyfriend can experience what a Christmas with Grandy would have been like too.
People often roll their eyes at me when I mention my excitement for Christmas in November, or despair at my delight in listening to endless Christmas songs. But, I do it with pride. It makes me feel a little bit closer to my Grandy, and I know he would love to see that Christmas makes me as happy as it made him.