"And so to winter at last we head, its crystal carpet once more we tread..."
I have always loved snow. I love watching it fall. In an instant I am transported back to my childhood, hoping that it will be heavy enough to be able to go out to play, to build a snowman, to throw snowballs, to walk and hear that unique crunch you never hear at any other time. I love the way snow transforms the most desolate of landscapes into something beautiful; magical almost. And, as I’ve got older, I’ve grown to love the way an unexpected snowstorm can change our day, put on hold our plans, cause everything to become still.
Well not quite everything. For those of us with families at home, snow can cause chaos. It can mean we are unable to take our car out which is usually inconvenient, especially as we get down to the last six pints of milk and two loaves of bread and immediately begin to panic about how we will survive another 24 hours!
(what is it with the milk and bread panic shopping?)
And I’ve always loved Christmas. I love what it means, as a Christian it’s an important time of year, the celebration of the birth of my saviour. But I’ve always loved the way that Christmas makes me feel. Christmas has a unique spirit that is not evident at any other time of the year. It’s hard to capture it in a sentence but I’m sure you know what I mean.
Yet for many who have children with additional needs, Christmas can be a particularly stressful time of year. I know it has been for us over the years. As a younger child, Emily was not particularly interested in opening her gifts. Once the presents were opened Emily was usually far more interested in the wrapping paper or cardboard boxes than ever she was with the contents. And more often than not she would spend most of Christmas Day up in her room playing with her “old” toys, watching her “old” DVD’s, uninterested in anything that Santa has brought. Many times we tried to coax her back downstairs to look at her toys.
It was such a relief when we came to the realisation that the best thing to do was to leave her to enjoy Christmas her way, not our way!
To get snow at Christmas this year was truly magical. The car journey home from Emily's Nana’s house was not especially enjoyable, especially as we had our new baby granddaughter with us. However, once we were home and safe and we watched the snow fall and could see it transforming our world into something resembling Narnia, it was truly beautiful. If Mr Tumnus or Aslan had appeared that would have made it perfect. Alas that was not to be but it was still fabulous to get snow at Christmas, it gave us an unexpected opportunity to spend more time with our family than we had planned.
Christmas can be the most amazing time but ultimately can feel something of a letdown after all the hype, the shopping, the food, the presents, it seems to have gone before we stop long enough to enjoy it. Yet the snow this year held up our plans, slowed us down, changed our thinking and enabled us to really enjoy what’s best about the season, spending time with our family.
As I reflect upon this Christmas, yes I’ll be thankful for the gifts and the food and the time off work but the best thing, the most memorable time, was having our plans interrupted by the snow. I’ll remember running outside with my adult children and having a snowball fight, I’ll remember us building a seven foot snowman, I’ll remember us having to fix spare beds as everyone had to stay, I’ll remember standing in the kitchen, alone, listening to the hubbub from the lounge of the “kids” getting excited playing scrabble at midnight, looking through the crack of the door to see my beautiful granddaughter asleep in her Nanna’s arms.
And one thing I will never ever forget was seeing Emily’s face when she excitedly opened a gift to find the new phone she had been hoping for. The look of wonderment on her face was worth a million Christmases.