It's a long time since I blogged properly. Sometimes there is so much going on in life, your heart, your head that writing can't even consolidate those thoughts and feelings. I have had 'blog' at the top of my daily to-do list for the past month, but practicalities have won over as I've flown around getting ready for Christmas - shopping, wrapping, baking, jamming and hurdling social events with the finish line in mind. Although the urge to write has been stronger in my heart every day - to the point I feel like I am missing a limb - I have been (im)patiently waiting for a moment of calm.
This moment has just about caught up with me. Just for a minute. The presents are wrapped, the bank balance is having a heart attack and I said the dreaded 'No' to a social event tonight because I just...could...not. I'm not done yet though, I have mapped out my hurdles for the week, which face me like gladiators, and it feels a fair way from here to my Christmas dinner.
Usually by mid December I am so ready for not just Christmas but for home. The last few weeks beforehand can often feel like a marathon as I countdown for not just festivities but for the one week of the year that I dedicate to my family and my family alone. For some people it's about getting smashed with friends, but I can't think of anything I'd rather do less than spend my favourite day of the year hungover, unable to give my family the best of myself.
I live some 200 miles from my Mum, Dad and sisters, not to mention most of my closest friends. Although I am fiercely independent, have a doting man by my side (who I have found my own family in) and keep myself busy, nothing can fill the gap of the people I grew up with and sometimes when it's the depths of winter and I am all on my own up here in big scary Sheffield, I really really miss them. It can sound silly to say you feel lonely when you're happy and have so many people around you all the time, but I do feel lonely when all I want to do some days is nip home for a cup of tea with my Mum, or catch a film with my Dad.
I have been feeling pretty homesick today, which always knocks me sideways. Why the hell am I homesick?? I am 27 and almost living a fully-fledged grown-up life, yet some days I think I just miss the familiarity of where I came from and to be around people who I never have to try with. I grew up a family girl and I stayed one. I was always homesick for my Mum, from my very first sleepover to when I travelled Australia - barely a day goes by that I don't text her and that's just the way I have always been. Same with my Dad, I speak to him a lot and we always have either a very funny or very philosophical chat - there's not many people I can do that with, and I love that I can talk at those depths with my own Dad.
Both my parents ground me in different ways and I talk to both of them about anything and everything - there's not much I won't tell them - and even though I'm a stone's throw away from 30, I don't know what I'd do without them. It may be that I missed out on something not having a 'together' family unit growing up, but I actually think the opposite - knowing them as individuals means I have gained a lot.
I also get two Christmasses! As a kid it used to feel a bit like pass the parcel going from Mum's to Nanny's to Dad's in the holidays, but I really look forward to those separate doses of quality time with both sides of my funny little family. Most of my year from the summer onwards builds up to this one week of big fat quality family time, and that's what I am counting down to right now.
Forget the carols, the presents, the food and the wine - what I am craving beyond belief is those small still shots in time that tide me over when coming all the way back to Sheffield feels really freaking hard. The big chats with my Mum, silly jokes with my sisters, the cinema trip with my Dad which has become tradition. I sometimes get a pang when I see people who's parents are nearby to help them move this or paint that, but I wouldn't change our set-up for anything. So I don't get to see them all the time, but I couldn't be happier when I do.
I may be homesick today, but I know that in a week's time I will be snuggled up with the people I can most relax around, probably arguing with my big sister and Mum about who would stand more chance with Gary Barlow, listening to some mad song my Dad has written on his guitar or eyeing up the last portion of Apple Pie (it's mine!) and I really cannot wait.
People find family in different places, it might be with parents and siblings, or it might be with a partner or a group of friends - it doesn't really matter. To me family is whoever you come 'home' to, who you spend these special times of years with, who you miss when things get hard and who you can just 100% be yourself around when you're bloated from 10 helpings of turkey and want to fall asleep at 3pm with gravy on your shirt.