Welcome to a very special Festive Feature on my blog, where every day up until Christmas some of my favourite authors will be sharing what they love most about the festive season, including their favourite films, food, music, presents, memories, books…Plus much more!
LESS THAN A WEEK TO GO! Whilst I try to contain my excitement, here’s the fabulous Debbie Johnson…
Before I had my kids, I used to work every Christmas Day. I was a journalist in a busy newsroom, and it seemed only fair to let the colleagues with family have the time off – and in return, I got New Year, which suited my then-party lifestyle a lot more.
Some years, it was quiet – there was little or no news to report. We’d come in, type up a few notes, make a few calls, and go find a pub that was open. Other times, it was different – in particular I remember one where three stories exploded at once. A serious assault that turned into a murder. A major fire. And two escaped chimpanzees from a local zoo rampaging through the town – I kid you not. You couldn’t make it up.
But gradually life, as it does, changed – and I became one of those people who preferred to spend their Christmasses at home. In 2007, my daughter was born. I already had two sons, and the new arrival meant that we needed to move house – never pleasant, especially when money is tight, and life is chaotic at best.
We saw dozens of houses. Some were too big. Some were too small. Some were in the wrong area. It was like Prince Charming searching for the perfect foot for his glass slipper, but a lot less romantic!
Eventually, we found our home. It was July, and hot. It was about as far removed from festive as it could get. But my very first thought on walking through the door was this: I can just imagine us all spending Christmas here together. Within minutes I was mentally planning where the tree would go, how we’d hang the decorations, the holly wreaths on the staircase.
I mentioned this to the estate agent, who immediately said: ‘If you’re imagining this as your Christmas house, this is the one for you.’ She was right, and a few months later we were in.
I always remember that story because it sums up Christmas to me – something so precious, so special, so laden down with significance and memory that it becomes much more than Just One Day.
As a parent, there is a certain magic that cannot be replaced – the excitement of hiding the presents, the joy of watching them be discovered. The horror of realising you don’t have the right batteries! As parents, I think you have to accept that you will – inevitably – to some extent mess your kids up. No matter how good a job you try to do, there will be something they resent, something they blame you for as adults. It’s part of the deal. But to offset that, I try and make their childhoods as full as possible of happy memories – of holidays and parties and walks in the park and laughing at puppies and splashing in puddles.
Christmas, of course, is the Big Daddy of all of that. We go to a beautiful service callled Christingle at church, we read our emails from Santa (who is obviously very tech-savvy these days), and we simply Cannot Get To Sleep. There is family and food and fun of all kinds. I say a silent goodbye to both of my own parents, who died in the approach to Christmas, and a not-so-silent thank you for all of my blessings.
It’s loud, it’s chaotic, it’s tiring, and there are often tears before bed time. There are rarely any rampaging chimpanzees or trips to the pub any more. I don’t, like Leah, the heroine of my book Cold Feet At Christmas, end up in the arms of a handsome stranger. But I wouldn’t change a thing. Because the magic of Christmas is about who you spend it with – and for me, my family is the most magical thing of all.
A massive thank you to Debbie for taking the time to write this beautiful piece for my Fetive Feature.♥
Debbie Johnson lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework.She writes romance, fantasy and crime – which is as confusing as it sounds!