I have to admit, I have two most memorable Christmases, one good and one bad, so let’s get the bad one out of the way first…
My Nightmare Christmas
My worst Christmas occurred in 1999. I was pregnant and incredibly ill. I barely remember that Christmas but well remember how traumatic it was being so ill. Unless you have experienced hyperemesis gravidarium, you can’t understand that it’s so much more than ‘severe morning sickness’. It’s 24-hour-a-day, months on end of not being able to keep even a scrap of food or liquid in your stomach, becoming gradually weaker, unable to move from the lounge or bed except to crawl to the toilet, finding relief only during sleep, eventually becoming so dehydrated and malnourished, it messes with your brain, affecting your memory and concentration. There’s no ‘cure’ and my doctor was adamant there was no safe medication, just IV fluids as required, trying to eat and drink small amounts daily and sitting it out – not fun at all. I didn’t leave the house for months except for doctor visits. In past centuries, women often died from it, so it’s pretty scary stuff. (It is thought Charlotte Bronte may have died of this.) You get the picture. Anyway, that was me, Christmas 1999. I’d already lost 10kgs in two weeks, been hospitalised and was able to keep down small amounts of food on a ‘good’ day; if I managed to vomit less than 10 times in 24 hours, I considered it an achievement. Somehow we managed to make the trip to my parents’ home, a 40 minute drive away on Christmas Day, where I lay on the lounge, exhausted and too scared to eat or drink. Of course, the upside is that modern survivors of this condition have healthy babies, as the baby takes all the nourishment from the mother, including reserves held in fat, muscle and bone. The next year, we celebrated the arrival of our big, healthy baby boy and the completion of our little family, relegating my worst Christmas to a memory.
A Christmas of Dreams Come True
In December 2014, my daughter had just finished high school. We set off on a mother daughter adventure, exploring Christmas markets, decorations and light displays (amongst other things of course) in London and Paris before meeting the boys in New York City. We then went on to spend Christmas week with friends in Niagara Falls, Canada before finishing up with a week of theme parks and thawing out in Orlando. It was an epic family adventure, our biggest and best of all. We didn’t quite manage to get a White Christmas, as it was unseasonably warm everywhere we visited, but we did experience a cold one (by our standards at least) and got to enjoy all the cold weather treats like candy cane and cinnamon hot chocolate, steaming mulled wines and holiday-themed donuts. It was exciting to see so many of the Christmas traditions we’d only witnessed on television until that point – charity collectors ringing bells on street corners, street vendors selling bags of roasted nuts, Christmas trees for sale on the streets and lining footpaths in NYC, Christmas markets and holiday variety shows. We even got to see many of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade balloons in a Universal Studios parade. A real highlight was walking the few blocks from our Air Bnb to Niagara Falls to watch the New Year’s fireworks. Unlike in Australia where people arrive hours or even days early to get a good viewpoint, everyone arrived about 11:50pm and left again as soon as the fireworks were over – it was too cold to do anything else! We missed out on our White Christmas, but the kids managed to see their first snow ever in Niagara-on-the-lake. Dreams came true, some longer anticipated than others – my daughter discovering Paris, me visiting London which I’d longed to do since my teenage years, my husband revisiting New York City, both kids and adults experiencing Disney and Universal theme parks. This amazing trip had so many happy memories which, I believe, will make it my most memorable Christmas for a very long time.
What would you class as your most memorable Christmas? Is it memorable for better or for worse?