Shakin’ Stevens and Slade are unashamedly blaring out from music systems around the country. The usual suspects have decked their National Lampoon homes with sufficient lights to be seen from space. ‘Miracle of 34th Street’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ are scheduled on a loop over the next couple of weeks.  

You’ve seen the Coca Cola ad, the John Lewis ad and the Asda ad (other ads are available). The gingerbread latte has returned once more to high street coffee shops and Christmas jumpers have become the uniform at workplaces throughout the country. 

Social media is full of perfect homes with perfectly-decked halls and shopping has become an even more utterly terrifying event. 


It must be Christmas.

Like many celebrations, Christmas causes me to reflect. To think about the life I’m living and those I love. 

A complex Christmas.

For a complex family like mine, Christmas too, is complicated. Just the list of gifts alone that I need to buy makes me infinitely aware of the multitude of people needed to make our lives function. 

I’m so thankful for the carers whose alarms are set for ‘silly o’clock’ to help care for my son. For the teachers, not just for the amount of time they spend, but who also put their heart and soul into their work. I’m grateful for school transport and the support workers who decorate buses and are adored by our whole family. For the numerous therapists who listen to my endless moaning and always do their best, even when cuts make their job so much more stressful. For the pharmacy that recognise my voice when I call with a request. For the seamstress who under charges me every time she adapts my son’s clothing. 

Life is so busy and too often I don’t take enough time to thank those who make our world go round. 

It isn’t just the sheer number of Christmas thankyous and presents, it’s how different our lives are compared to others. When choosing a gift for two of my sons, it is a matter of whittling down all the options. For my eldest, I (not so quietly) dread being asked what to buy him because, inevitably, the answer is, “I have no idea.”

My son will open gifts on Christmas day but he doesn’t really get it. In reality, he’s likely to be upset by the change in routine rather than delighted with anything ‘new’. With heightened expectations all pinned on one day comes the increased likelihood of disappointment and frustration. We are learning to not try and do it the same as everyone else because it can’t be done. We have to work out our own traditions and ways of celebrating that work for our complex, unique and wonderful family. 

So, since I haven’t properly embarrassed myself since I put a picture of my face on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body, I thought I would lighten your day and give you an early Christmas present. As a special treat, here is my own version of The 12 Days of Christmas … 

(… and please don’t worry, I won’t give up my day job any time soon). 


The 12 days of a Complex Christmas

Thanks to David Stanley at the Music Man Project for the accompaniment.


The 12 days of a Complex Christmas Lyrics (shortened version)

On the first day of Christmas my diary screams to me 

A visit to the GP. 


On the twelfth day of Christmas my diary screams to me 

12 thankyou presents**** 

11 drug dose changes 

10 teacher’s targets 

9 nurses nodding 

8 OTs tutting*** 

7 physios flexing 

6 carers cancelling** 

5 sleepless nights 

4 changed pads* 

3 feeding tubes 

2 toilet chairs 

… and a visit to the GP 

* We only get four in a 24 -hour period (I know that others of you have even less). 

** We have wonderful carers who only cancel when they have to. 

*** OTs only tut at me when I lift instead of using the hoist. 

**** I buy LOTS more than 12 thank you presents but that was as high as the song goes. 


So, there it is. Our complex Christmas summed up in a Christmas carol. 

What would your complex Christmas carol include? 

Have you had any genius gift ideas that you can share? I love to hear your ideas. 

An extra special shout out to all those who don’t get a holiday at Christmas 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year