The Cantan Chronicles: What Happened in December

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Happy New Year! Wow, the end of yet another decade and the start of what hopefully will be a good year. I ended 2009 a working mum of one and by early 2010, I was pregnant with our little monster. What a decade it has been. This post is What Happened in December with a mini look over the last 10 years.

The Last Decade

It’s odd-looking back but in ten years, we’ve had a baby, moved house twice, I’ve had five jobs, started and finished university. Made some amazing friends and lost others. I’ve watched family members slowly leave this world as well as welcome new ones. I have suffered from depression, anxiety, anger, sadness and been grief stricken. I’ve been pushed aside, let down, ignored, forgotten, unsupported, unappreciated and felt alone. I have spent the last decade mourning the loss of the son, I will never have. I used to feel guilty but someone reminded me that it’s normal. We have dreams for our children from the womb, I saw him playing football with his friends, attending school with his sister and having a job, wife and kids but we don’t think about the what if’s. Why would we?

I know I’m not alone in feeling all these emotions, not only am I a parent, I am also a special needs parent, we carry the weight of not just our own lives but that of our children, the children that struggle to sleep with or without medication, the children that have medical conditions like epilepsy, the children who despite testing us to the brink of despair we get up every morning and repeat. Because despite all that, no one will ever love them as unconditionally or with so much love as us.


The Next Decade

I mention this because I didn’t expect in 2010, that I would spend the next decade and beyond fighting for my child to have a normal life, whatever normal is. Like most parents, I am looking forward to watching them grow but with slight apprehension that Thomas will continue to struggle. Then I consider Alana, who has her own learning difficulties, I often wonder if she will struggle to adapt to an independent life, one where we aren’t constantly supporting her. She’s 12, a lot can change in six years which is why 2020 will be looking at Alana’s future. From GCSE options to college courses, to possibly life beyond that.

Blogmas

Let’s begin by saying that by day six! Yes, a whole six days and I failed miserably. With all the planning, content and ideas, I just had too much to do and it got the better of me. If you did manage to read my first ever attempt, that I thank you for taking the time. I will consider attempting it next year.

If you wanted to have a read of my sad attempt at blogmas please have a look.

Winchester Christmas Market

Winchester Market
Winchester Christmas Market

Early in December, we visited Winchester Christmas Market. I had been desperate to do it for years, sadly last year Thomas had a seizure day so my girlie trip to eat some crepes and drink mulled wine was somewhat put on hold.

It has been voted one of the Best Christmas Markets in Europe and it really is something special. On the day we visited, we had the heavy rain to contend with. I love the festive atmosphere, I would definitely go again and in 2020, myself and my friend are going to get our mulled wine and crepes!

Christmas Walk

Polar Bear Band
Keydell Nurseries Christmas Walk

Like most families, we have our traditions, one of those annual traditions is visiting our local Christmas Walk at Keydell Nurseries, in Horndean.

Like most things, it has grown from a small, free attraction to a much larger, busier and chargeable event. With most weekends having to queue to gain entry. We opted for during the week this year and it was quiet and easy.

There are various photo opportunities along the way, new attractions added every year and there is the option to pay extra and visit Santa. This is separate and you don’t have to do this to do the walk. I have heard great things about the Santa visit there, sadly Thomas has never been one for even understanding who the guy in the red suit actually is and on our previous attempts screamed.

It is a lovely little experience to get you in the Christmas mood.

School concerts

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the annual bundle into an overcrowded school hall to watch our little ones in their various school productions.

Christmas Production
Thomas as a sheep

Thomas’ school amaze me every year that they manage to pull together a show for a group of parents that is not only enjoyable but makes sense. We have to hide so Thomas doesn’t see us, however, he’s got clever and understands now that all the Mums and Dad’s are there, so mine must be too.

It must be quite overwhelming for some of the children to stand up in front of strangers, with their varying levels of needs from ASD’s to other learning difficulties. I often find the whole situation emotional. It’s a proud moment for the Mums, Dads and Grannys to see their little one experience these things.

Thomas however still gets annoyed, upset and overwhelmed with the whole affair and he’s often bought in last. I’m hoping by year six, he might be able to at least sit with his class. I am ever hopeful.


The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe

Alana as a Rabbit

As Alana has grown older and her love for all things performing as grown, I look forward to the annual Christmas production, whether it be a pantomime in a local village hall or a larger youth theatre performance.

Alana has been a member of our local youth theatre for over a year now. She attends their workshops and has been lucky enough to perform in their last two Christmas shows. Oliver in 2018 and The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe in 2019.

I am always blown away by the level of skill, professionalism and enthusiasm that the cast has. I am very proud that Alana is associated with them and people approached me this year and remembered her as playing Bet in Oliver last year. She didn’t have a huge part this year but people saw her and remembered her as the little 11 year old who sung solo and was amazing (even if I am biased).

This performance wasn’t easy for her, it was the first show she had costume changes and she found that overwhelming. There were many tears shed this week as she panics. I think she learnt a great deal from the experience. We always enjoy watching her.


Christmas Work Party

I’m going to be honest, I am never one to fully embrace the work Christmas Party. It has been an extremely long time since I have been drunk leaving such an event and this year, I decided that I wanted to leave sobber and without having to spend two hours in a taxi.

Going out out
Getting Ready for Christmas Party

It sounds boring but when you have a child with special needs, I’m very aware that I need to have all my senses on parr. The last thing I want is to get home at 1 am, Thomas has a seizure or two and I’m struggling to function due to lack of sleep and/or alcohol. It has been this way for 10 years, in a way it’s a nice excuse when people say I’m boring for only drinking a coke.

I also have to mention that my colleagues are extremely supportive and understand that I can’t get drunk. That my family situation isn’t the easiest. I am thankful for that.


Family time/Christmas

The thing I like about Christmas is that every family is different. Nick and I struggled a lot before having children, we felt we had to please everyone and we spent our Christmas day, rushing around.

We made the decision when Alana was born that as much as we love our families, it was too stressful and told everyone we were staying at home. Everyone was always welcome but we wouldn’t continue with the rushing around. You can imagine how that went down but 12 years later and we stand by that decision.

Christmas for Us

Thomas gets overwhelmed very quickly and often without warning, 2018 he spent all afternoon crying, 2019 he wanted to open all the presents in five minutes, there is no in-between. He’d never cope with a large family Christmas, as they’ve got older I have thought about how different it would be if we had a larger house that could accommodate a large family but we have to consider Thomas in every decision and he’d probably never cope.

Festive Table
Festive Christmas Table

Boxing Day traditionally we all convene at my Mum’s for yet another roast, this includes my brother, sister in law and my two nephews. I especially enjoyed this year as it was lovely to see my youngest nephew attempting to play with Thomas. Thomas didn’t give a hoot but he was following him around, trying to show him his toys and it made my heart melt.

Thomas didn’t last the full afternoon, too much excitement and he’d had enough so we ventured home, I am always grateful for the little time we spend together.


Plans for 2020

One of my most favourite times of the year is receiving a new planner/calendar. I like seeing the clean pages ready for me to fill all the important dates. I have a few plans for the year, nothing booked or concrete plans.

Annual Family Photo
  • Spring weekend break – We used to do this a few years ago but the summer one kind of took all the budget. I am hoping to do a cheap last-minute deal.
  • Summer Holiday – Usual summer trip in July to Cornwall.
  • Bathroom makeover – Now the wet room is sorted the main bathroom needs a little TLC. Not a major overhaul but a new toilet and sink, new floor and new lick of paint.
  • Garden makeover – We spent most of the last summer with a giant hole in our garden, so this year it will be nice to actually enjoy the garden with some new furniture at the very least.
  • Career – Still very much up in the air. I’m not sure exactly what will happen in 2020, I have a few things I want to do later in the year. If things go the way I hope then 2020 could have some nice changes.
  • Family – There is always so much going on in the background, something which has been going on for a good few years, we are finally getting towards a possible outcome. I think 2020, like the years before it, our family life will be the centre of it. Mainly, Alana this year. Have a few things, currently going on. Usual thing, easy decision but complicated by others involved. This will more likely be our main focus for the first half of the year.

So this is my final ‘What Happened…’ for 2019. Are there any Christmas or December traditions that you share with your family? Do you have plans for 2020? Perhaps you feel pressured to drink, spend lots of money on nights out and regret it come January?

Thank you for reading

Gemma x

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