If Christmas Is Hard
After a loss, the time around Christmas can end up feeling packed with more sting than sparkle, and it can be an incredibly lonely time.
Coming from a background of teaching skiing, I love snow. I love Christmas. For me the two went hand in hand, I loved the snow because I loved Christmas and I loved Christmas because I loved the snow. The fairy lights, the trees, the cosy glows, the whole vibe of the festive season suited me to a tee. Hence, so many of my illustrations leant towards Christmas cards. I couldn't wait to share them with you all and I delighted in creating them in the height of summer sitting in the garden.
Yet, despite my childlike anticipation of the festive season, I always held in my heart the knowledge that there would be times when my excited emails would land in the inbox of someone who might be feeling so far from festive. I wanted to make sure that I acknowledged that and made room for that person to feel at home and understood in the world that I was creating too.
When I released the poem and illustration online, Your Voice, Cornwall shared it on their Facebook page. Over the coming days it gathered 50K shares and on the 23rd December 2019 I sat beside my Christmas tree in my PJs with tears rolling down my face as I read so many heartbreaking comments of all the people who had 'needed to read this today'. I replied with hugs and condolences to as many as I could, many people had lost loved ones that day. I vowed right there that I'd make sure to create a physical card the following year.
In 2020 I released the first card, thrilled to be raising money for Your Voice. I was close to selling out when the Facebook post started to get shared again. Suddenly, I was getting more and more emails every day asking for the card, out of stock and unable to reorder in time for Christmas through my printers.
I wanted so badly to help and each email broke my heart, messages like this became so common in my inbox, but I know that the pain I felt at reading them was nothing compared to the pain they were facing at the other end.
"I have only just discovered your beautiful card.... Please please advise when next back in stock ...I would love some of these but in particular for two tiny girls who lost their beautiful young mum this year to cancer"
I hunted around and sourced an alternative printer and created a new batch. It sold out in an hour. Repeat...And so did the next. With a lot of help from my Mum, we managed to get as many sent out as possible, spending whole days wrapping and addressing the orders between us. I even had a lady in hospital so keen to get them that I set up a special invoice system for her because she kept missing them when they went live.
It was an honour to be able to help provide comfort to so many people at such a difficult time, especially within such a challenging year too.
Much as I wish it would pass quickly, a painful loss is so unlikely to vanish within a year and I wanted to create a card which would allow you to pop the same sentiment into an envelope, sealed with a hug and let someone know that you're still thinking of them every bit as much as last year. I hope this helps. And if you're reading this following a loss of your own, I'm sending you so much love from here. And I truly hope you have moments of calm and whispers of magic among the painful times.
Thinking of you,