Partner of a Pilot
The Candid Diary of an Airline Pilot’s Girlfriend

Christmas, what’s that?

As a child, Christmas was always such a big deal in our house. I think more so than most. We always had between 10 and 15 people in the house, mostly family. Christmas would always be such a loud, sparkly, ‘merry’ time, and we would look forward to it. The house was always decorated, and it would be a really family orientated event decorating the tree.

Christmas Eve would drag during the day, where my brother and I would wish away the time until my favourite uncle and the rest of the family would arrive. The enormous tree we had each year would be dwarfed by the ridiculously huge pile of Christmas presents around it. The table would be constantly full of our favourite foods, chocolates in shimmering wrappers would be in dishes on the coffee table, their wrappers twinkling and shimmering from the dancing lights of candles, the fire and Christmas lights. Music would fill the down stairs, and we would be allowed to stay up far too late as the grown ups indulged in too much wine and decided that Midnight Mass would be fun.

My extroverted Uncle who is completely tone deaf would go to church and sing at the top of his voice much to the dismay of my grandma (God Bless), and the grown ups would refuse to sit next to him. It was the best! We never had enough bedrooms to sleep everyone, so my Grandma took my room, my aunt and uncle would sleep in the living room, one cousin and her then fiance would take my brother’s room, another cousin and his family would take the annex, my parents would be in their room, and my brother and I would sleep in the attic, I’m sure we even had guests sleeping in the Camper van at one point!

We would wake at about 5am and pester our parents to wake up, who would tell us we had to wait until at least 7:30 (having had to wait up until probably 3am for us to fall asleep so that they could fill our stockings, they were not full of the joys of Father Christmas so early)!  We would open our stocking presents excitedly and at 7:30am prompt, we’d bounce all over the house (Tigger fashion) waking everyone up.

I’ll never forget the excitement of these huge family events, and even now just remembering it, it brings a smile to my face.  Meal times were hugely elaborate events with rich gourmet meals prepared by my mum, aunt and grandmother-all vying for their place in the kitchen. My uncle and father would routinely fall asleep in an armchair each after dinner. God I miss being a kid! 

In our home today, I try desperately to recreate this magic for my children, on Christmas Eve, we check the Norad website, where you can track Santa’s progress through the time zones on Christmas Eve in real time, we bake mince pies and sausage rolls together, we listen to Christmas carols, and last year we went to a pantomime, but it’s a pale imitation of my Christmases as a child.

Three major factors contribute to this. Firstly, I have to share Christmas with my boys between me and my ex, meaning that I generally don’t get the whole day to build up to, secondly, my family now live all over the world and bringing everyone together is impossible, and thirdly, and most importantly of all: Bf is a pilot. This means that he’ll probably be working on Christmas day; and even if he’s not, he’ll likely be working Christmas Eve, or Boxing Day or all three, which will mean we cant even go to spend Christmas with family whilst he’s at work, as my parents live in France, and there is no public transport available.

The worst part is that we wont even find out until mid/late November, when Crewing (or Screwing as I’ve recently heard them referred to) decide to publish the Christmas roster.  By this time, most normal people have rough plans for what they’re doing for Christmas already.

Bf grew up in a house where both his parents worked on shifts/rosters and often worked on Christmas Day, so he doesn’t get the whole ‘Christmas’ thing any way. He says its JUST another day… He says that we can celebrate Christmas on any day. But the fact is, it’s not the same.  This is something that I have to learn to accept, as I have chosen to be with a pilot, but it’s the one time of year that I’d give my right arm for him to have a ‘normal’ 9-5 routine.


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