Christmas meant 2 weeks off work and I didn't turn on my laptop or read a single email, which pleased my family and gave me a proper break. We played games and watched movies and all of my family spent proper time together. We even managed an overnight trip away at New Year to see friends.
Facing our second Christmas without Elspeth was made easier by the recovering health of my partner and one of the teenagers - both spent the whole period at home and all of us were delighted at that. We still have a way to go before everyone can be declared 'healthy', but we are moving steadily in the right direction, and riding that wave of tentative success has helped keep us focussed, but having no doubt that we aren't in a position to 'just get on with everyday life' has kept us well grounded.
We didn't experience the roller coaster of emotion as much this year. The Christmas period was calmer, and more relaxed. Everyone really did take a break, and even the little boys didn't get up until 8am. Even so, it left everyone exhausted. Elspeth was in our thoughts constantly. We bought a huge Christmas tree which, even with the top lopped off, didn't allow room for our new glass tree topper, but everyone was okay as it was, so we just didn't have one.
In reality Elspeth was always desperate to be the one to put the fairy on the tree, and usually she was given that honour. When she was small her father (or Grandfather if he was visiting) would lift her onto their shoulders. The Christmas before she died we also had an enormous tree, and I took a memorable photo of her balancing on a chair and still barely able to reach. No-one wants to forget that moment or push Elspeth aside, so no-one steps in to be the one to top the tree.
I wrote last month about the lull after Christmas, and if you are struggling then it will begin to hit you any minute. I listed 5 reasons why you shouldn't take your own life, and sadly I post many more reminders each month. I'm glad you are still here. Please, please stay.
Don't let the post-Christmas nothingness take over. If you are finding it hard then talk to someone, anyone. People are too wrapped up in their own problems to spot yours sometimes, but it doesn't mean they don't care. Don't ever think you are all alone. You never need be alone.
The Samaritans 116 123 (free)
Papyrus 0800 0684141 (free) or text 07786 209697
Childline 08001111 (free)
Child Bereavement UK 01494 568900
We had a lot of smiles over Christmas, here are those I managed to collect with my camera over the last month...they are the reason we carry on, and every one is worth it...
Please feel free to share your own smiles on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #tbcsmiles. It's always great to see them.