The little brightly coloured Christmas lights sparkle and glow. Shining of memories. It’s a warming feeling. And it comes from more than just a set of tacky lights. After an extremely frantic week, somewhere after all the buzz of working, sending off orders and family time comes the opportunity to reflect on the week I’ve had. With many highlights, many of which surrounding our baby Squish – I think the thing that sticks with me the most for this week is the anniversary of my Grandpa’s passing.
Three years ago this Wednesday gone, we said our final goodbyes as Grandpa took the step into eternity. He was an amazing and humble man, who provided our family with so many memories. Father of quite a few, the extended family was large at the time of his departure, including the first great-grandchild (my cousin’s son). But he never got to see my sister marry. He never saw his first Great-Granddaughter. And he didn’t see all of the incredible legacies he’s left behind. In his life he appreciated many things, and in turn taught us to appreciate them too. Family. Model Railways. Not Drinking Hot Drinks. And Christmas. To name just a few.
For all he taught me, there is something about the brightly coloured Christmas lights that brings back all the memories. My grandparents’ bungalow wasn’t one of the houses that has all the LED shapes on every flat surface and window. No, they had a few of those. But the majority of the decorations were there to behold when you walked through the front door. Tinsel clinging to every ornament, wall hangings (dog collar) and door frame. And lights. Lights everywhere. But Grandpa wasn’t one for the boring yellow or blue lights – he had the brightest and most colourful lights of all. The most prominent of which were hung over the fireplace and on the glass door. I can’t begin to describe how warm those two sets made me feel. Looking at the lights (that were each encased within tiny model old-fashioned carriages – like the ones pictured, right) draped high above the fireplace, and then to see the little flower-type coloured lights sellotaped all the way around the glass panels on the front door. All of the lights had some kind of broken part, whether cracked chipped or simply missing. But that’s what made them special. Every year – they’d be there. Taped up just a little bit more. We’d go around on Boxing Day and you’d see the effort he’d gone to, to make us all feel as Christmassy as possible. It was something so special.
Without fail, they’d be up. So when he passed, just a week before Christmas Eve – the lights were already up. They were already shining. But somehow, I couldn’t face them on the day of his funeral. It was too much. But three years later, the thought of those lights has changed me. Walking through the shops early in the 2014 festive season and seeing the brightly coloured fairy lights – the memories were reawakened. And at the beginning of my daughter’s journey – to me – nothing sums up the passing-on of Grandpa’s legacy better to a baby girl than those lights.
And so, not long after Squish arrived, we hung the bright lights above the fireplace and told her stories of how special Grandpa’s lights were. With each colour that lit up above our tree (conveniently located on the fireplace this year), I thought about each memory. But they represent something much stronger. Family. She still has three other incredible Great-Grandparents (and a Great-Grandparent Dog!), she has four amazing Grandparents and so many Great Uncle’s and Great Aunts that there’s too many to count. That’s not even to mention her incredible Auntie V and two Uncles J’s along with countless friends who are basically family too. They all love her so much. I’m astounded by the affection and generosity of my friends and family to us and her.
And of course, her Mum and Dad. We love her so much that we can’t help but make the legacy of Christmas the best and brightest it can possibly be. Each year. With tree’s, with presents, (with LEGO,) with Christmas films and music and with Christmas Lights. Already at six weeks of age, her eyes widen and the mouth drops when she sees Christmas lights. Fascinated by the twinkling and the colours, it soothes her even when she’s crying.
It’s almost a bit of an inconvenience when people rain on the joy of Christmas with that classic phrase “It’s not happy for everyone. Some people have terrible memories of Christmas.” But I do get it. Christmas of 2011 was tough. But sadness and misery wasn’t the legacy that Grandpa left for me and my family. Far from it. It only fuels our love of Christmas, of family time, of decorations and of Christmas lights.
So those little brightly coloured Christmas lights twinkle and glow. Shining of memories. Thank-you Grandpa. You shine on.