For the love of dad

For the love of dad

My parents have found my blog.

They knew I wrote one, but it only came up in conversation recently when my mum said she had seen one of my Instagram photos. She is definitely not on Instagram, so I racked my brains to figure out how. Ding. Blog.

In said blog, I refer to my mum a couple of times, mainly to say that she’s always right. Because she pretty much is. Luckily I inherited that gene, right Olly?

But dad felt left out. He’s 100% not always right, bless him, so I couldn’t put otherwise. Instead, here are just a few reasons why my dad is, and has always been, a top bloke.

1. When I had detention in school, he would sign my forms for me and agree not to tell mum (sorry mum).

2. He watched almost every game of netball I played when I was younger – that’s a LOT of games – and cheered for me like a champion.

3. When I had a paper round aged 14, he would get up at the crack of dawn and drive me round all of the houses so I didn’t have to cycle. Mum did this for me sometimes, too. Are they legends or what?

4. He could never stay angry at me for long, even when I was really naughty. Like the time I poured yoghurt over my sister’s head, or carved a star into my bedroom wall with a compass (those really are tips of the iceberg).

5. When I decided it was a swell idea to run away from home, he came to find me in the dark. (Young = stupid.)

6. On holiday, he would sing a duet of Wet Wet Wet’s ‘Love is all Around’ with me at karaoke.

7. Once, after he had dropped me off at uni and was heading home, I called him to say there was a spider in my room and pleaded with him to come back and extract it. He did.

8. He calls me kiddo*.

9. He has a 12-string guitar in the loft that he can still play on demand and it’s awesome.

10. On the day I qualified as a Solicitor he told me he was the proudest dad in the world. I know I don’t practice law any more, but I hope he’s still proud.

*although he also once called me a turd.

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What December means to me

Hello December

It’s that time again. The chill I feel in my bones, the mist I make when I breathe, and the frost which sleeps on my car, all tells me that we have turned the twelfth corner of 2014. We have entered the final chapter of the year, and who knows what will be written on its pages. November arrived in a flurry of fallen leaves and promptly left again. Which leaves us only with December, and all its glory. I’m not one of those people who has my Christmas tree up by now, listens only to Christmas albums on repeat, and has the presents already wrapped and under said tree. Far from it. Having said that, I am incredibly partial to some festive cheer and I feel content knowing that Christmas is on its way. Why? For me, it’s all about family.

When I properly moved to Cardiff 4 years ago I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my family very often. It’s a sacrifice I made to pursue a career good enough to be able to live very comfortably. However, that career was short-lived. I was miserable. What is the point in living very comfortably when, most of the time, you just don’t feel happy? I digress. Having lived away from my family for so long, it’s times like December when I feel a bubbling excitement. Not just because I will soon be eating Christmas ham while sipping bucks fizz, devouring a big fat turkey, and stuffing myself with as many pigs in blankets as I can possibly stomach, but because I will be going home. They say it’s where the heart is.

This year, I will be spending Christmas Day and Boxing Day at Olly’s parents’ and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to feel when the time comes. It will be the first time I wake up on Christmas morning without my mum, dad and sister. I might even cry a little. The voice inside is saying ‘You’re 26 woman! Grow up!’ That may be true. But for me, the charm of Christmas is about being a child again. I want to hold on to everything I loved about that time of year when I was young. Sleeping in the same room as my sister on Christmas Eve and opening our stockings together in the early hours. A Christmas morning walk. Trying to de-stress my mum. Sorting the presents under the tree into piles for the family. Dressing the dogs in their bows and bells and laughing as they help us unwrap. Listening to the same tape (yes, tape) of Christmas tunes over and over while we eat lunch as a big family. Playing board games long into the evening. Curling into the sofa to read. Laughing. Laughing lots.

I don’t want things to change. I know they have to, but I don’t want them to. I don’t have either grandpas around any more, my uncle, aunt and cousins are gone, and one of our beloved border collies passed away earlier this year. I’m in a relationship and it’s only fair that we split Christmases between our equivalent families. My sister is also now in a relationship which means she will be doing the same. What I have to come to terms with, is that it isn’t Christmas itself which makes anything special. It is simply being surrounded by the people I love. It doesn’t matter what day of the year it is. Things will inevitably be different. The important thing is that I try and embrace those differences.

This year, December will be about remembering the ones I have lost, smiling at the memories, loving the ones I still have, making new memories, chatting to my parents late into the night, reading, writing, walking, eating, laughing. And wondering what 2015 might have in store.

What does December mean to you?