Giving Thanks.

 Hi readers, Gemma here. Today we’ve departed from the norm somewhat, and that’s because instead of Rebecca introducing a post by a guest, it’s me writing the intro to one of Rebecca’s posts. Now Florence Finds is well and truly Rebecca’s baby, and I like to think of myself as a kind of cool and fun aunt to that baby. I still get excited when I get updates from Rebecca on what she’s planning to write or feature and normally, as you all know, FF is a celebration of life and of being a smart, stylish and confident (if occasionally late for work) woman. However Rebecca wrote me an email the other day about the post you’re about to read, and said that she wasn’t sure about it. That maybe it was a little bit, well, sad to be published as it was and that maybe the ending needed to be more upbeat. So I read it, and I had a bit of a cry, and said that I didn’t think it needed to be changed in the slightest. That sometimes in life, there’s not a happy ending, and all we can do is try to remember the good chapters that lead up to that ending. Her words stayed with me over the weekend (which, as it turned out, involved a minor car crash where no-one was hurt and which served to reinforce the message) and the unaltered piece is below. 

I read a lot of a American blogs and the flurry of Thanksgiving wishes that spread across them at the end of last month was rather alien to me. Despite having travelled to America a lot, I’ve never been to America at Thanksgiving and the whole celebration really seems like another Christmas to me. I really got a sense this year though, through the voices of bloggers like Emily, Jo and Taylor, of what Thanksgiving is about, giving thanks. I know that seems obvious, (clue’s in the name right?!) but the sense of excitement they all had came through, not for presents but just for time, spent with loved ones, something we all too often don’t get the chance to do in modern life.

I always get a little sentimental at Christmas. I am the world’s worst person for crying when I’m happy, whereas I rarely do it when I’m sad. Having family around me and receiving beautiful gifts that have so much thought put into them, often starts me off shedding tears of happiness. That and the music. Jeez… how to make me into a blubbering mess? Put a Christmas mix tape on. If it’s not Mariah making me think of how lucky I am to have Pete, it’s Chris Rea’s ‘Driving home for Christmas’ making me miss my Dad, or Band Aid reminding me how much excess we take for granted in life, especially at Christmas time.

Sadly, tomorrow I am attending the funeral of lovely lady, the Mum of one of my childhood friends, who was also a close friend of my Mum’s. With my Dad having died right at the end of November (16 years ago now) I know what it’s like to be Christmas shopping with a big hole in your life and one that is so raw. My heart is going out to the family left behind, who will forever miss her, but will also feel her absence all the more keenly at this time of year which is supposed to be full of joy.

The mixed emotions of this particular loss however have come as a real surprise to me. In the past, for the last 16 years to be precise, when I’ve heard sad news of illness in a family, or the passing of a family friend or acquaintance, my first thoughts have always gone to the children. No matter how old, losing a parent is devastating and something that can’t be replaced. You get used to it and learn to live with it, but it’s always there. This time however, my heart went out not only to her children, but her husband. After what must have been thirty years of marriage it must be so hard to know that person won’t be there when you wake up in the morning, there are no more holidays to plan, no more sharing.

I don’t write this to thoroughly depress you all pre-Christmas (and I’m sorry if I have) and I certainly don’t write it for sympathy. I write it to remind you all to give thanks. We are all guilty of postponing things, that trip you dreamed together, or just running out of the door without a second glance or an ‘I love you’. We always think there’s more time and one day, there won’t be. Cherish. Every. Day.

I know there will be many of you this Christmas who have suffered a loss this year and it’s the first Christmas without someone dear to you, or perhaps that someone died long ago but you miss them still. I’m sure those people don’t want us shedding a tear for them at Christmas, rather raising a glass to them (as we always do to my Dad) and what better way to remember them than giving thanks for the wonderful family and friends we are lucky enough to be sharing Christmas with.

If there’s someone you’ll be missing this year feel free to leave a comment in the box and share a message for, or about them, or if you’re just feeling lucky this year and can identify with me in being happy to just cherish having time to enjoy your family.


PS. And thank you Gemma 🙂

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23 thoughts on “Giving Thanks.

  1. I honestly just burst in to tears in the middle of M&S because I was overcome with pride in my lovely boy and felt so lucky. This post has made me feel even more so! Lovely way to end the year Rebecca, and love to everyone out there.

  2. *I will not cry at my desk, I will not cry at my desk*

    Thank you so much for this post, Rebecca. My mum has incurable cancer, and every Christmas since she was diagnosed in 2009, a part of me has been wondering, “will this be our last one all together?”, and I always resolve to cherish every moment and let her know how much I love her. But somehow, in the tumble and chaos of shopping and turkeys and rushing around, that resolve disappears under the crushing weight of all the boring practical things that Thanks for reminding me what’s important. Even though I won’t be spending Christmas day with my mum (stupid marriage), I will make sure she knows I never stop thinking about her and I never will, no matter what.

    • Argh! Now you’ve got me at it!

      I’m so sorry to hear that Kirsty, but I’m sure your Mum knows how much you treasure her.

      Just to let you all know, today I’m in York, having Christmas day #1 with Petes folks, his siblings and their families, so I’ll pop back later and take my own advice in the mean time and enjoy every moment with them (and my cute as a button niece!)


  3. Ha Rebecca, don’t thank me! I echo Kirsty in thanking you! Nothing wrong with sentimentality, especially at Christmas, because what is being sentimental except being reminded of and valuing what’s important to you in life?

  4. Totally just cried at my desk…! Lovely piece though, a little reminder of what’s important is always good.

    Thanks you Rebecca (and Gemma) – Merry Christmas x

  5. Thank you for this reminder to give thanks – there are people I will always, always miss, and this year I want to give thanks for all of my amazing friends who have gotten me through it. Including you, Mrs C-S, and the incredible women I have met through the weird and wonderful blogging community.

    Thank you, Rebecca, you’re fab xxx

  6. This Christmas we’ll be missing my Husbands Mum, who I never had the pleasure to meet, and my Nan, who although is still with us, isn’t really with us. (If that makes sense) As we grow older, so does my worry for my family, and the thought of the awful inevitability of one day losing those closest to me.
    When I look back on past Christmas’, it’s not the presents I rememeber, but where and who I spent it with. So I intend to make some more wonderful memories year and toast the loved ones who are in our hearts if not in our homes.
    Lovely post Rebecca, wishing you and your family a lovely Christmas xx

    • Linsey my husband never met my mum, because she died when I was 4. I just always think to myself that she would have loved him and I have no doubt that your husband’s mum would be so happy at the way things have turned out for him. Argh this post and all the comments are making me really emotional! xx

  7. Thank you, that has just put into perspective the fact that 80% of my Christmas Shopping is not done! Have a wonderful time in NYC!

    Merry Christmas to all.


  8. Great post Rebecca! It’s so important to take a minute out of the turkey ‘n’ tinsel chaos to remember the things – and, most importantly, people – that really matter. As the saying goes, no one on their deathbed ever wished they’d spent more time at work! Life’s too short – fill it with the GOOD stuff ;o)
    A very merry Christmas to you all

  9. So we’be had tears in m&s and at work, may I bring tears at the hairdresser? Preparing to lose husband’s grandfather any day now over here, with such a close family its going to be terribly sad, and my first Christmas with them will be bittersweet. Grateful for every moment with ny loved ones this Christmas, and, ad usual (sentimental sop that I am) will be drunkenly telling everyone how much they mean to me at every available opportunity.


  10. Lovely lovely post and so well written. I’ve been thinking about how incredibly lucky I am recently with such amazing family (and in-laws) and an amazing year next year what with our wedding and welcoming my new nephew or niece. I’m remembering both my granddads at this time and both my Nan’s who are still with us but have Alzheimer’s. My mum has MS so I’m acutely aware that the future years may be painful. You have to cherish your family and friends and hold onto the good times.

    Happy Christmas everyone and wishing you a peaceful happy new year
    Rachie xo

  11. As always, beautifully put Rebecca.

    We always raise a toast at Christmas to absent friends and it never ceases to bring me to tears. This year has taught me to never take anything for granted; I admire those who have to make it through any day, let alone Christmas Day, without someone they love.

    Merry Christmas everyone! xx

  12. Thank you for this post Rebecca (and Gemma). My mum died just over three years ago. Thers is always a huge mum-shaped hole in my life, and never more so than at Christmas. But it is so important to hold the memories of absent friends and family so year but not to forget to cherish and enjoy the people around you.

  13. My boyfriend’s mum died on Christmas Day 2009 after a long battle with cancer and it was awful watching him and his family in pain on a day which should have been a celebration. While Christmas will never be the same for them I’m so proud of my boyfriend for not resenting the day, but using it as a positive way to remember his mum.

    Thank you Rebecca for writing this post, it certainly helps put things in perspective.

  14. Beautifully written post lovely!

    This is a weird Christmas for us, on my side we;re celebrating as my Mum was given the all clear from cancer. On the hubby’s side we lost his Gran to cancer.

    We are going to make this Christmas count! xxx

  15. Love this post…made me sad and happy in equal measure! Thanks so much Rebecca (and all the other commenters), wishing you all a very Merry Christmas xx

  16. I’m late to this party as usual, but another one who thinks this was a lovely post. Anyone who also reads Any Other Wedding will be aware this is my first Christmas of my whole life without my mum and first Christmas of 5 years without my ex-husband so will be hard work. On the plus side, I have a lovely dad and great friends, so plenty to be grateful for…

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