It’s Christmas Eve here at the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere. It’s warm. There’s sunshine intermittently between light white clouds. A little whisper of a breeze, and not all that much humidity right now (thankfully). Sitting at the breast pump for my 15 minute ‘rest’ time while I express, ‘planning’ the day, in so far as mums plan days that never, ever go remotely to plan. I have a compulsive need to have the house clean and tidy for tomorrow. Why? No idea. No one is coming. Oliver has no idea.
But it’s my way of coping. Of grabbing control of something when the rest of 2015 has felt completely out of our control. If I have the washing done, the floor clean, the equipment sterilised, then I totally owned that day (Oliver being fed and warm and happy also of course, like all babies he seems to know when mum wants to get things done, sleep? Nice try mum!).
This Christmas will be strange. It’s a happy time of year, full of family and friends and food (!!! Coming back to that). But we have a huge hole in our family left by a tiny person. There will be countless other families out there this Christmas who are just that little bit keen to go to sleep on the 24th and wake up on the 26th. Skip the day that’s so obviously not what you want it to be.
Preemies sleep a lot, but there’s no way in hell they would sleep for 24hrs to help us out…! So somehow we’ve all gotta get through.
For many the comfort that they would normally seek from their big groups of family and friends they have to stay separate from, too many of those big bugs. So we’re stuck in our homes, trying not to wallow.
Many people have said to me to find the things that comfort you and focus on them, and a number of them have referred to the casts we have of Charlie, as a way to feel close to him. We have them framed on the windowsill next to our bed and as of Monday after an amazing anonymous delivery in the mail we have little remembrance Angels made with our little boy’s feet that we can hang on the (figurative) Christmas tree.
And I will look at these. I known I will. But I think for a day I might try a little harder not to look at them. Because I don’t want his feet on Christmas Day snuggled with us in bed for a cuddle before we get up. I want his whole tiny body breathing and smiling and living. So I turned to another comfort this morning.
Before my dad passed away Christmas lunch at our house consisted of 1,500 different types of meat, roasted on the barbecue.
My Yaya would make a huge spanakopita, baklava, dolmades (the rice/grape leaf kind. Not to be confused with dolmades, the rice/capsicum kind or dolmades, the meat/cabbage kind). We would have special Greek Christmas bread that for some reason Yaya only ever made 15 loaves of, since then we have attempted smaller batches none to quite the same level of awesomeness as her bread (so maybe that’s why?). As most people do, we would eat until we couldn’t move and then play some sort of family board game, most favourite for many years being articulate!!
This year there’s a long list of things that there’s not:
No dad. No Yaya. No bread (we made our quarter batch two weeks ago to eat with my brother before he went off galavanting through Asia). No brother. We are renovating (as most Nicu families are!!) so there’s no stovetop. No time (how do mums cook???? Seriously).
I find it easy to see all the things that are missing, to feel all the hard, lost moments. To sit next to my little boy and think that this Christmas is nothing at all what I wanted it to be.
And people will tell you to think of the positive things, be grateful for all that you do have. And I get that, I do.
But to be honest, in my opinion however you want to get through this day is the right way. If you want to write all those crazy positive things in vivid on your freshly painted walls, go for it! You want to eat the whole Christmas cake before you get out of the car at your lunch destination, do it! You want to take your favourite part of the meal and spread the crumbs of it all through your bed while you hide under the duvet and cry, screw anyone who tells you that you can’t.
Me? I’m going to get my little boy to bed tonight (by 1930???? We can only hope, so probably by 2230 if we’re realistic) and then I’m going to make my Yaya’s spanakopita as it’s the least time consuming dish (because this is sleep time I’ll be cutting into here) and tomorrow I’m going to cuddle Oliver (try and take him off me, I dare you…), I’m going to eat the biggest piece of pie I possibly can, smile for an hour or so and then head under the duvet. I plan to emerge sometime in the evening for a second helping of pie.
No one knows what it’s like. No one knows how it feels. So the right way to grieve it? You’re way. Whatever that may be.
1 large onion
2 large bunches of fresh spinach
Puff pastry (store bought obviously, ain’t nobody got time for that)
Humongous bunch of fresh dill (the dill maketh the pie)
200g fresh feta
Salt and pepper
1 large egg (+extra to glaze the pastry, or butter; mmmmm butter)
Wilt spinach in a small amount of water until soft and flaccid (chose that word on purpose, try and tell me you didn’t smile a little). Drain.
Sauté onions in Olive oil until soft and translucent.
Add spinach to the onions and sauté until the liquid has evaporated.
Add piles and piles of chopped dill!!
Transfer to a cold bowl and allow to cool slightly.
Add the beaten egg and mix to combine. Season.
Add the feta, I always use the whole block because, well, because.
Roll pastry slightly thinner and line a baking dish, roughly 30x20cm, fill with the spinach/feta mixture and top with pastry (buttery buttery pastry goodness!).
Using a pastry brush spread beaten egg or melted butter over the top of the pie.
Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven.
Let it rest!!!!! Important or it’ll flop all over your plate (no one likes floppy pie, 😊). Then cut yourself the biggest piece you can and eat the whole pie. Xx
P.S. Couldn’t find a picture of said pie…here’s the next best things.