On a lighter note…

Rain is due in the next few days and I am looking forward to it! Rainy days mean cuddles on the couch with the kids, playing in the muddy back garden and doing crafts in the dimly lit dining room whilst listening to the pitter patter of the drops.

Rain is a rare in Fresno, but so common at home in England. It’s weather that can make my heart feel heavy and light simultaneously. I love it.

Homesick

Every once in a while I get homesick. I used to say it wasn’t the country I missed, just the people in it, my mother, my brother, my sisters, their children, and the friends I left behind. But more so lately, I’m missing the country as well. I miss simple things like walking to the corner store, or to the doctors office, getting the train or riding the bus home from town on a wet and windy day.

I miss the architecture, the cobble stone streets, the old cathedrals and the sprawling green countryside, dotted with ancient artifacts. I miss the seaside towns with their old carousels and piers lined with visitors holding their raincoats close to their bodies, but still enjoying their 99’s with flakes and strawberry sauce!

I don’t think I’ll ever live in England again, but I’ll enjoy every visit. I’ll go wherever Curtis goes for work, and England sadly pays their fire fighters pennies, the public servants in general, are treated pretty poorly in comparison to here. Wherever I am with Curtis and the kids, I’m home.

 

On this day

On this day last year, my sister, her boyfriend, my mom and my dad, came to visit us for three weeks. At the time we didn’t know just how sick my dad was. We thought the sickness he was experiencing was a reoccurring chest infection that the doctors had been telling him he had for over a year, treating it with antibiotics and a nebulizer. They almost didn’t make the trip at this time, they were going to come in March… But that would have been too late.

They spent three weeks with us, we did a lot of mundane things, we hung around the house, but we also did some exploring, seeing Yosemite, Old Town Clovis and Sac, Avila Beach and San Francisco before they went home. 

I’m so grateful that they made the trip, that dad had the opportunity to see the kids and that we had time together as a family before everything shattered just 18 days after his diagnosis. I try so hard not to go to that dark place when I think of him. I try not to dwell on those last days, but to savor the laughs, the joy and the sweetest memories.

I’m glad that Calvin remembers him, that he says often that he misses his papa, and shows Mia photos of him. He’s three and death is a big concept for such a little person. 

Family is the most important thing to me. My little unit of four, my parents, my siblings… These are the people who make me, me. 

Christmas Day

Christmas has certainly changed in my life over the years, with growing up, with getting married, with relocating and with having children. 

When I was a child, whether in England or in Canada, Christmas was always pretty similar, because it brought with it the traditions that my parents had built. Opening presents first thing, a big breakfast cooked by mom, playing with our toys, watching tv and having a huge Christmas lunch, crackers, paper hats and all. The house when we were younger would be decorated with shiny foil streamers from one corner of the living room to the other, Christmas cards hung on thread across the walls. There was always myself, Kylie, mom and dad, and some variation of having John, Robert and Stacey with us. Eat, drink, laugh and fall asleep with full bellies and even fuller hearts! 

 It changed as I grew up, when it was just Kylie and I still living at home, siblings would join us for dinner either Christmas Day or Boxing Day, spending the mornings exchanging presents in one location or the other, the decorations becoming more minimal, but the love and laughter remaining.

When I moved to America, I joined Curtis’ family at Christmas time, either with Curtis or alone if he was working. Our decoration, a tree with a box of ornaments accumulated over the years of Curtis’ life from his Nannie, with a few of my own being added these past few years. I have spent one Christmas away from everyone since being here, I just couldn’t stand to be in the spirit of the holiday, feeling depressed and frustrated, and I hope never to have a Christmas like that again.  

Our first tree didn’t even light up properly but we didn’t care!

 Now Christmas is about creating traditions with Calvin and Mia. Calvin understands Santa now, so there is a renewed energy and excitement surrounding the holidays. Ornaments on the trees are a mixture of Curtis’, mine and the kids. Calvin even made our tree topper this year. We put out cookies and milk for Santa, carrots for the reindeer and had our dinner Christmas Eve because of Curtis having to work. The kids and I spend the day quietly, playing with toys, watching movies and enjoying the unseasonably cool weather for California! We even got to the snow this year and I’m sure we will again before winter over.  

   
So Christmas has changed. It includes Skype chats, international parcel services, split family gatherings and new traditions being made each time. But one thing remains the same, the love.