Every year for as long as I can remember, I used to write a “round robin” Christmas letter. Mine was not your typical “we’re all living happily ever after” kind of letter though – I always tended to write a “warts and all” version.
So much so, that after one very difficult year, the friend who used to print it for me handed it back and asked if I could make it sound a little more upbeat!
Being authentic has always been important to me – and showing the source of my strength.
Every year when my dear mother used to read my Christmas letter she used to respond by saying “Vicky, some day you are going to write a book.” I always laughed at such a ridiculous notion.
I have never recovered from the disappointment of getting a ‘D’ in higher level English in my Irish Leaving Certificate Examination. I went to see my english teacher in tears. Miss Wallace was very austere, but she kindly told me that if marks had been awarded for effort I would have gained an ‘A’ – I had studied so hard, but I just didn’t have the ability.
Maths, physics, biology and of course Irish, were my strongest subjects at school, but I have totally lost my mathematical ability. I struggle when helping Miriam with her Primary School maths homework.
Last year the children pleaded with me to write our Christmas letter as per usual. They wanted things to be as normal as possible. I did write it but I never sent it. I just couldn’t.
No matter how many times our Belfast haematologist smiled at us and told us how well Leah was doing, my heart told me a different story. I resolved to enjoy Christmas and then face whatever January would bring, I was struggling emotionally.
Christmas 2012, before we knew that she was unwell, Leah wrote her own contribution to our Christmas letter for the first time. Here is part of it:
This past year has been filled with many eventful times; some not so good while others were amazing. What has really kept me going is knowing that I have amazing friends and family who support me through everything but what’s more is that I have an amazing God who never fails to amaze me!
I’d like to finish with a Bible verse that I love, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath” Psalm 34:18 (The Message Translation).
I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and that this upcoming year is amazing for you.
Leah’s words, written two years ago, are as close as you’re going to get, to Christmas greetings from our house this year.
Her favourite band, Rend Collective, have released a Christmas album this year called Campfire Christmas – Leah would have loved that.
Here is their version of O Holy Night