Going last on a blog tour when the topic is, “What does Christmas mean to me?” equals almost everything important has already been said. Family. Love. Friends. Quiet time. Remembering loved ones. Consequently, I’m unable to break new ground and give you anything spectacularly fresh. What I will give is my experience and my truth.

I loved Christmas as a kid. My brother and I would wake at three or four in the morning, have a “fuddle” (a picnic of chocolatey badness), and then go and wake mum and dad—usually with party poppers (I know, it’s surprising we weren’t smothered with pillows, but instead, one year, they rose earlier than us and returned the obnoxiously loud favour). I don’t remember much else, certainly not because memories were bad, but because I seem to have a pretty terrible memory period regarding much of my childhood. But I remember love, cuddles, and presents. We weren’t a religious family. Mum believed but also believed that you didn’t have to go to church to pray. God would hear you wherever you spoke to him. Apparently.

In 1998, Christmas became all about my little pup, Kev.

Kev was a bundle of brindle bounciness who came into my life by happenstance. I was on an all-inclusive holiday in Fuerte Ventura when I found him tied to a pole at the end of a half-made road in the middle of the desert. He was so thirsty that he drank the only thing I had to offer him: 7-Up. What followed was a love story. One that lasted fourteen years until 2012, when I lost him to a stroke. At some point, when I’m strong enough, I’ll return to writing his story, but I fear that may be some years ahead yet.

But I digress. Christmas became all about Mr. Kev.

I’d shop for him from around August, and I’d lovingly wrap every single present (and there were a lot of presents every year). I’d put all of those presents in a box and wrap the box. The first two hours of Christmas morning featured Mr. Kev carefully removing the wrapping paper, biting into the box, and then carefully unwrapping each present with a dexterous combination of teeth and claws. I’m so glad that I captured this phenomenon on video several times. As memories fade, as the years pass, and his furry little princeness becomes fuzzier to me, I’ll always have those videos (and many, many others of his wild and wonderful escapades, from beating up Labradors to climbing castle walls).

After 3:15pm on the 25th April, 2012, the heart of Christmas stopped beating for me. No longer did I love to buy gifts or rustle them up all pretty, with ribbon and bows, and the best wrapping Paperchase had to offer. In truth, it affected more than Christmas for a long, long time. It’s only since I met my now-wife, and fellow author, Brey Willows, that Christmas has recaptured its original magic. For reasons that it’s not for me to share, family is super important to Brey. And she treasures mine as if it were her own. I have a better relationship with my mum and dad now because of Brey. Don’t get me wrong, we had a good relationship before, but now it’s great. They’re not just my parents, they’re my friends, and Brey and I love doing cool stuff with them (like picking and carving pumpkins, making gingerbread houses, and having movie nights in our PJs). This Christmas, they’re coming over on Christmas Day and staying through to Boxing Day (despite living just a mile away), and I can’t wait.

My point, through this long-winded and slightly depressing blog, is that Christmas is about love. All kinds of love. Friends. Family. Wifey. It’s about cherishing what we have rather than focusing on what we don’t. It’s about making the most of the time with loved ones because, spoiler alert, neither they nor you are going to be around forever. And when they’re gone, you might well regret that you didn’t find the time for them.

I hate regrets. I always have. “I don’t have regrets” has always been my tagline. Anything I’ve done or said or experienced in my life has built me, in one way or another, even if they knocked me down first. So this Christmas, my first as a wife and with a wife, I’ll be thinking about that love and how damned lucky I am to have it. Because there are so many people in the world that don’t.

I’ll treasure it. I’ll protect it. I’ll remember it.

Happy Christmas, lovely readers 🤗