The festive season is upon us – confirmed for me yesterday when Santa rocked on up on the vintage steam train we were on.
Albie is obsessed with his trains at the moment, to the extent that he’s climbing atop his train table and taking apart the track like a Gozilla figure (climbing not so subtly off it when he clocks us catching him). So heading to the Bluebell Railway, Sussex, was a great fit.
If you have a similar railway near you, I highly recommend the experience. Albie loved it, enthusiastically answering ‘yes’ to the question ‘Did you have a lovely day’? He usually says ‘no’! The extent of his vocabulary otherwise was ‘train!’ and ‘choo-choo, hoo-hoo’.
For this Christmas experience, we sampled old-school fairground rides, (Albie) cracked up as children tried and failed to ‘splat’ the rat and had our photo taken with Santa, as well as getting to look inside the driver’s carriage (very toasty with the roaring fire) and filling up on warm mince pies.
It truly signalled the start of Christmas, and with all wrapping done there’s just a day-and-a-half’s work left before two days off.
As I outlined last year, this time of year is super busy in journalism. Multi-tasking is a must, working on more than one week’s paper at a time. See my guide to Christmas in the newsroom here.
This year is a little more hectic, with editing to be done on all our papers across Sussex, ensuring gaps are filled and everything in my sections is sent off in time. Christmas bank holidays affect print times, so often papers need to be finished days earlier than usual, before you’re quickly working to fill the next.
Despite all that, Christmas Day and Boxing Day will be valuable, work-free family occasions. It’s a time for everyone to come together and to celebrate.
But it’s also reflecting on the fact it will not be such a happy time for all. My grandad struggled with it greatly after we lost nan – particularly as it was so close to Christmas. Boxing Day at their house was always the festive highlight for me as a child and it was never quite the same when it didn’t happen any more.
Positively, childhood experiences have made both Hanna and I determined to make this time of year extra special for Albie. I for one will cherish every minute of it and am thankful to have a healthy, happy family.
I was saddened to hear the story of former rugby star Rob Burrow – himself a dad – and his diagnosis of motor neurone disease (MND) at the age of 37. He appeared to be staring down the debilitating disease with extraordinary bravery and I can’t imagine how much of a hammer blow such an unexpected diagnosis must have been.
As journalists, sometimes you are exposed to an potentially overwheming amount of heart-breaking tales. Rarely a week goes by without us covering a cancer fundraiser, tragic death or an awareness feature of some terrible, rare illness. Experience hardens you to it – but it also ensures you value all the good times and make the most of them.
So have a great Christmas, and make the most of every second. I hope Santa brings you everything you wished for!