Just over a year ago my husband lost his very dear friend Carlton after a short and brave battle with a brain tumour.
I remember the funeral like it was yesterday, it was a beautiful service where afterwards everyone spent the whole afternoon talking about what a wonderful man Carlton was.
For his lovely wife Jo, their sons and daughters this year will be the second Christmas they face without their great love.
It’s a funny time of year where if you have small children like me it becomes magical again but for many it can be a really lonely time that some dread.
When my granddad died suddenly in his early 60s my nana Jean vowed never to celebrate Christmas again.
He loved the festive season and would decorate our house so every inch of the ceiling was covered in paper decorations stuck with tape and it was quite a sight.
He would play Christmas music all day long and nothing could have ever put him in a mad mood that day.
I vaguely remember the following year after losing him, I would have been about 16, and the day was just empty and quiet.
My brother Adam is very similar to my nana Jean, he’s more than happy to spend Christmas on his own with no hassle or drama.
He won’t even spend the day with his partner’s family, which I think is something to do with my granddad and mum not being here anymore.
This year they are both coming to us, Adam is cooking and I’ve never heard my nana so excited.
Obviously they both can’t wait to watch my daughter rip open her presents and of course Baby Two will have just arrived so this year it’s a special Christmas for all of us.
It’s lovely to know they both want to really celebrate the day as a family and both my husband and little girl are also really excited about making it a proper festive celebration.
It’s so easy to forget that though for many it’s a daunting and depressing time of year where loved ones are missed, and it can feel like everyone is having a great time apart from you.
It can be so lonely for elderly people also and really tough for those struggling financially.
Everyone has a different reason for either really relishing Christmas and loving it or dreading it and not enjoying it.
I remember absolutely dreading Christmas and the new year when I was in my 20s, so much so that I always used to sign up for all the news reading shifts at work.
I always felt everyone was with their families having a great time and for me I didn’t really have that family get together anymore.
When I met my husband Chris that all changed, I started to enjoy Christmas again and now when I look at him and my daughter I feel so lucky I have to pinch myself. I really look forward to shutting the door to everything, eating what I like and snuggling with all the people I love. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and forgetting that there are people out there that need help and support more so at this time of year.
In some way we can all make a difference at this time of year no matter how small, be it giving to a charity, picking up the phone to someone we know who is lonely or inviting them over to ours.
Sometimes it’s the small things that count and this time of year should be about spreading love and kindness only.
On a mission to help children
It’s so easy to forget that for some Christmas can present a real struggle.
For many families the expense can send them over the edge and there are a lot of children out there who don’t have the special Christmas parents like you and I strive to offer.
That’s where the wonderful charity Cash For Kids comes in and I’m so proud to support such a wonderful cause.
The lovely Lisa at Radio Aire heads up the project and this week launched the ever growing successful Mission Christmas. The aim is to make sure no child in West Yorkshire and Leeds wakes up to Christmas Day without a gift.
Last year Cash For Kids helped more than 23,000 children from disadvantaged backgrounds in our area.
The appeal relies on the fabulous listeners of Radio Aire and people across Leeds to donate just that one special gift.
We turn on the news and see day in day out some of the terrible things happening to young people in the world but we often forget there are so many kids needing help and support right here on our own doorstep.
Lisa and her team are so passionate and care so much about making a difference in children’s lives. Christmas should be a magical time for every child and if you and I can help to make that happen then let’s get cracking.
You can drop off a gift at Radio Aire on Burley Road in Leeds or for a full list of drop off points visit radioaire.co.uk