Thursday, 27 December 2012

12 Days of Christmas...

It's been the first Christmas that I've really enjoyed since 2007....and the kids all had a great time!

We made up a song on Christmas day which represents our family and made us the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas"...try it out....

On the 1st Day of Christmas the Lord God gave to me...
- A hard working washing machine

- 2 different names
- 3 different schools
- 4 sets of in-laws

- 5 T E E N A G E R S

- 6 sets of bedding
- 7 family members
- 8 bikes to choose from
- 9 pets to start with
- 10 (our new bed time)
- 11 types of china
- 12 bins to empty

Quite catchy eh ?!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The snowman family

Webster/Mackay snowman family all ready for Christmas !

Following on from my previous blog, we're not really changing our surname (for those who weren't quite sure!) - it was tongue-in-cheek !!

This grief journey definitely includes a measure of madness but silliness is also permitted !!
The madness part feels very integral to the journey for me - and many people we've spoken to on similar journeys say the same thing….sometimes you really do feel like you're totally losing your grip on reality and/or your mind !!
As for silliness - well I'm probably sillier now than I've ever been (but not entirely stupid hopefully !!?) but there are many other changes too - I was told a couple of days ago that I'm a lot gentler than I used to be…that's good I think. I'm certainly damaged forever in ways that I can't fully explain….examples include :-
- I can't handle pressure like I used to be able to
- I have become hideously forgetful
- I lack motivation
- I emotionally overload without warning
- I avoid conflict like the plague
- I physically wince when I think back to hospice days
That's just some of the fallout….but thankfully I'm still very silly….(hooray!)….in fact, it's quite possible that my next blog entry may relate to the recently discovered Porridge Performance Index (PPI) - just a simple foodstuff you may think, or perhaps an uncanny predictor of the UK Economy?? Coming soon to a blog near you….(but only if you say please).

So….Christmas is less than a week away.  Presents are all purchased (but mostly not yet wrapped).
The dog has now recovered following his single-pawed advent chocolate and candy-cane raid of the christmas tree (he really was 'Dog Mess' for a couple of days!)

As a family it feels like we've been on a voyage of discovery afresh during the advent season….we've been listening to J John's short daily advent messages and following scripture union's advent story too (there's quite a few embellishments in the latter!) Then we've also been thinking on the Bible names of Jesus each day from our advent candle (see daily tweets!), and talking a lot about what it must have really been like during the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.
The 'Christmas story' can be so unhelpfully familiar in many ways because of tradition, fairytale images on Christmas cards, school nativities (as cute as they are!), sentiment etc BUT the Bible account is a factual historical reality.

Most poignant for me so far this year is the scripture which recounts when Mary was told by the angel that "The power of the Almighty will overshadow you". This was Mary's encounter at the point when God stepped into history in the person of Jesus - the incarnation - the most significant event in the history of the world. That same truth that Mary was told is now true for all believers in light of the resurrection…the power of the almighty overshadows us….he is quite literally Immanuel ("God with us"). Through all of life's ups and downs and the huge storms which engulf us (or will at some point) , the Lord Almighty doesn't leave…He is an ever present help in trouble.   It is simple.   It is incredible.   It is true.   It really is great news and we choose to live in the reality of this at Christmas and every other day of the year.

Which just leaves us to wish you a very Merry Christmas…. we received the above HUGE and very lovely personalised Christmas card a couple of days ago with 7 snowmen on's taking pride of place in our family Christmas display!

With love from the Websters/Mackays (aka Family Mess!)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Happy Families

It’s taken a while but I’ve come to the firm conclusion that we are 'somewhat unusual' as a family…….

On Sunday I was in tears at church (how novel !)....sometimes the 'weight' and all the memories that Ellie and I carry around in our thick skulls all the time for ourselves and our children can be so incredibly tiring emotionally….and as my good friend preached a message about Jesus being the "living water" I was tipped over the emotional edge. So up for prayer I went….

Then on Monday/Tuesday both Ellie and I were confronted afresh, in our discussions with others, with some of our memories which we’d really rather forget (but you can’t!) Talking about our journeys is definitely therapeutic, even if painful, and the people that we spoke to have had similar nightmare stories and tell us how helpful it is that we can talk openly. I guess that’s good, even if a little unusual….

The children are all doing astoundingly well really. One daughter has had to face the untimely death of a very young teacher at her school (just weeks after she gave birth to a child)….which plunged her back into hideous memories which are so difficult to deal with, as well as the sadness of the loss of a teacher and young mother that she so respected. Another daughter keeps getting referred to by the wrong surname….it's quite annoying (for me more than anybody else I think!!). To be clear, we have two distinct surnames in one family and they aren't double-barrelled, they just sit side-by-side. So we're not "Family Mackay" nor "Family Webster", but we are the "Webster/Mackay" or "Mackay/Webster" family. One family…Two names….'somewhat unusual'.   In the 21st century era of family breakups and step families it's not all that unusual I don't think, although how we got here is moreso!

So, for our 'somewhat unusual' family, Christmas is coming….and it's time for a little confession at this point – it’s the first Christmas since the nightmare of 2009/10 that I haven’t been either fearful about or detested it's imminent arrival.   I’m actually quite looking forward to it this year….Ellie is too. We are definitely forging a 'new normal' for our combined family with new traditions being established ("Chocolate Wednesday" being the current favourite) and we are all looking forward to Christmas morning stockings with 5 children posted at different points on the (very furry) carpet in our bedroom in our home. 
Ellie has already made Christmas cake (it smells delightful)….we're doing a daily advent chocolate hunt and nativity scene assembly, and using different bible names for Jesus every day when we pray at mealtimes….it helps us to remember the truth of the season.

So how do we tie up our 'somewhat unusual' family and the Christmas season? The answer is simple - we have decided to legally change our surname by deed poll to something which represents our uniqueness, our journeys and our challenges…so our new surname will be "Mess" (people can even spell it without explanation)….and to solve the christmas present challenge for another year, we are getting a batch of special "Happy Families" cards made….we will be “Family Mess”, with "Father Mess", "Mother Mess", 2 "Master Mess" cards and 3 "Mistress Mess" cards (and perhaps our pooch, Sam, can be "Dog Mess"?!). We will be the unusual family in the pack that is most difficult to get the complete set of…and the photos on the cards will be extracted from our wedding cake figures shown here. Christmas presents all sorted for another year. Surname trouble resolved. Hoorah!

Happy Advent !