I had a nostalgic morning yesterday; I have had our video tapes transferred onto DVDs and I finally dared to watch ‘Christmas 2001’, Joshua’s first Christmas. I expected to get upset by the images from 17 years ago but I was transfixed by the young family that I saw on the television screen:
The most obvious thing was what an enormous but happy baby Joshua was: he grinned and goggled at the camera constantly with chubby, rosy cheeks and bright blue sparkly eyes. I was absorbed as I watched him attempt to open parcels for the first time ever and then loved how engaged he was with the process, much more than he is now! He sat in an empty cardboard box, giggling his head off. He was given push along walker toys as he was standing but not walking at 9 months old, and I was mesmorised to see him grip the handle with both hands, whereas nowadays his right hand does not work at all. I was surprised at how vocal my baby was with his hiya and dadada noises, I had forgotten that too.
This was Joshua pre-epilepsy, as his seizures began in earnest when he was 4 years old, although I thought that I detected an arm twitch on the film. So then it made me sad, thinking of all that epilepsy had robbed him, and us, of.
We were all younger, slimmer and more hopeful on this film. Our baby boy, despite his ‘devastating brain damage’ diagnosis was talking, standing, responded to his name, using both hands and could clearly see too. We were in a relieved, delighted bubble and this seemed like a ‘normal’ family Christmas. We had no idea , at that stage, what was going to follow and the roller coaster ride that we were about to take.
It was heartwarming to see images and hear the voices of both of Joshua’s grandfather’s who are no longer here. My Dad’s reassuring, quiet presence was there in the background and took my breath away. My father in law was a more prominent voice on the film, but he was taking real pleasure in his grandson’s first Christmas and provided a running commentary to the morning. Our three nieces were on the DVD, all little girls, who have now all blossomed into young women, all with degrees, working hard in their chosen careers and sharing their lives with partners, so I loved watching them act out ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ for the assembled audience!
I enjoyed watching how our dog at the time, allowed Joshua to stroke her and forgave him from grabbing handfuls of her fur. Honey was the mother of our current dog and he has become just like his mum. He has not watched the toddler grow up and learn to walk, as Joshua was 3.5 when Max was born, but he has shared the majority of his life with him.
So it was a real trip down memory lane; it was 3 hours long, moving beyond Christmas to Joshua ‘s first holiday in Las Vegas and his first birthday party. I sat glued to the television for the first hour or so, but then I had it as background to my chores, loving what I saw as I breezed in and out, taking me right back to those early days. Joshua clearly dis not recognise any of the characters in this film, how could he relate to the chubby baby on screen or his young, slim parents? I know that I will be watching it again and again, so it was a perfect gift to myself.