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 !