15th February, 2019
In my last blog, I commented on how I was looking forward to Christmas and New Year at home and Norfolk respectively. Continuing this theme this month’s blog is focused on the highlights of both.
Christmas shopping was a combination of thinking about what to get, remembering what I had thought of, where to get it and the best route to do so. That is, on line or in person. I decided with my mum that the best approach was for us to go together, separate and let me make some present decisions alone and then reconvene. This worked well and to ensure that I made optimal use of the time spent re-establishing skills that would fuel my fight for relevant independence, I was independently responsible for the shopping process from choice to purchase.
Once home the wrapping began. This is where the fun started. First, was trying to remember where I had hidden the bought gifts from prying eyes. Second, my less than adequate wrapping skills were poor prior to my brain injury and are certainly no better (worse) for it. Third, allowing someone to help me, whilst feeling defeated, and the admission that my skills were severely lacking and the surrounding frustration. The result however, was that my gifts to others were well wrapped and under the tree, making the help founded. One minor hiccup was that I forgot to put tags on the wrapped presents. Trying to remember what present was for who was a challenge as I felt my way around the poorly wrapped gifts, attempting to correct this mistake. Much to my relief and saving embarrassment, everyone did end up with the right presents!
We had a full house for Christmas Day. My parents, my sister and brother plus his girlfriend. We followed the usual family format of opening stocking presents and sitting together to enjoy a big late breakfast (brunch!). This format brings on a warm feeling of nostalgia for me, reminding me of fond clear childhood memories, prior to my brain injury, of past Christmases. This is not to say that those since my brain injury have been less fun, it’s just that I can’t remember them as well and struggle to recall them.
The stereotypical feast of Christmas dinner was delicious. The table beautifully decorated by my sister and dinner prepared by my mum, aka Mary-Berry-Jane. We all sat round the table ready for a festive feast! We then played the usual after Christmas dinner games, which got quite competitive and loud. I managed to keep up despite this. I do find the speed and banter that’s involved difficult sometimes, as I try and interject and if not given time to do so, lose the moment and focus, forgetting what I want to say. The problem occurs when I often know what I want to say and try and wait for an appropriate time to say it. This leads to internal frustration and anxiety worrying that it appears that I can’t keep up.
My family spent New Year in Norfolk, during which we spent a lot of time playing Bananagrams. I am scientifically and mathematically minded, which I suppose is a rather ‘blue-sky way’ of saying that spelling is not my strong point. Hence, I was not the winner of this game. Luckily, I was rescued as we had to leave to go to family friends for New Year’s Eve.
We enjoyed a big meal together followed by games (no spelling involved!), music and ‘dancing’. One of the problems of not drinking is that the cruel truth of my inherited dancing skills cannot be hidden and I can blame my father for my ‘Dad-dancing’ gene.
I had been feeling a little anxious at the prospect of a New Year spent without alcohol. Anxiety that stemmed from an unfounded belief that not having alcohol, while others were, might inhibit my enjoyment of the celebration however, this was not the case, I had a good time. The following morning, enduring mega hangovers, some of our party braved the annual organised local ‘sea dip’ in freezing conditions sure to give a good wake up cure for their muzzy heads.
So overall a warming Christmas and New Year. I must admit that post-Christmas blues did hit me quite hard. Having spent time with my younger brother and sister and their friends brought home the realisation that I have a hill to climb to reach where they are now. On the bright side, I have a loving and supportive family who encourage me to keep going and work hard to achieve and enjoy what I can.
“ I struggled with a lot of issues, especially how I felt my father’s personality had changed and Headway Cambridgeshire helped me a lot at that time in my life. They made me feel much less alone and I’ll always be grateful for that. ”