Last Christmas was the worst of my life. No kidding. Some of you might remember my blog break around this time last year. Exactly a year ago today my grandfather had a stroke that kept him in the hospital unable to move, swallow or articulate words properly for 20 days until he passed away. He was a lot more than just a grandfather to me; he was the only father figure I had during the first years of my life, which obviously had a massive influence in our relationship. In his last years he became one of my best friends, we talked about almost everything (there are certain things you can’t really discuss with a conservative 80something, although we did discuss S-E-X) and I could witness how his views slowly expanded through those conversations. For example, when I was a teenager he really disapproved of me travelling because “it’s so expensive blah, blah, blah”. Ten years forward and we had the following conversation:
Me: I booked a really cheap trip to Rome. I only get to be there for one whole day, though, which is a shame.
Him: Really? That is such a great idea, it’ll be good for you to get away.
Obviously when this happened to him, I had to be there. I visited him at the hospital nearly every day, fed him, anxiously watched his breathing while he slept, showed him photos of that trip to Rome, helped him to exercise his arm, pointed out every thing we could see from the window to pass the time, applied a wet cloth to his forehead when he had a fever and juiced a clementine with my hand so he could taste it. It was exhausting and emotionally draining and I went back home crying every single day. It being Christmas only made it harder.
I’ve always bloody loved Christmas. I didn’t get to spend it in a real home or with any other children around until I was three, and I know this might seem like I was too young to remember anything, but believe me, when you move to a town with half a million people in it and so far you’ve lived in the mountains surrounded by sheep and goats you remember these things. Remember Heidi when she first goes to Frankfurt? I was Heidi. So my antidote for my unhappiness and utter lack of Christmas spirit was to set up a little tree in my room and bake a lot. I still lacked the spirit, but I had something pretty to look up, which was a change from hospital walls. I hadn’t set up a tree in my room since I was a kid and I don’t plan on doing it again, but it was something I needed last year. And you know what? For a while it sort of worked.
I made a zine about my grandpa, you can see the details here. Or click the blinking dot on the right of your screen.