This might seem an odd title for the Advent countdown but it is a very special day on my list of Christmas activities and has become a bit of a tradition.
On 8th December 2015 my dearest friend and colleague Helen passed away after her brave fight with cancer. She was only 51 and we had worked together for 13 years side by side, no matter which office we worked in, and we were moved about many times, she sat on the left and me the right. We were affectionately known as ‘Hinge and Bracket’ and between us we administered the Legal Aid contract for the solicitor’s firm we worked for checking client’s eligibility for Legal Aid, compiling the claims and keeping the Solicitors in mind of the strict rules and compliance.
We both had a love of the job and although we were like chalk and cheese in every way possible we soon became firm friends, supporting each other through our many ups and downs. Although we worked hard there was always time for lots of fun and we could often be found with tears of laughter rolling down our cheeks and if anyone in the office needed cheering up or had a problem they found their way to us, we always made time to listen.
Christmas was a very jovial time at work with Helen and when the firm moved to larger premises with more individual offices we each decorated our own room, some better than others. We had a large and spacious office and together we hung a selection of shiny gold and silver snowflakes and stars from the ceiling. The effect was much admired by our colleagues and so the idea came to us to award ourselves First Prize and make a certificate which, to everyone’s amusement, we blatantly displayed on our door! Some of our other colleagues thought there was actually a competition going on that they had not heard about.
Our good friends Miss T and J were situated a little way down the corridor from us and shared a very compact room no bigger than a shoe box and in comparison their meagre effort was a very sad looking lopsided Christmas tree, sparsley decorated with a few trimmings and it had obviously seen better days, so we sneakily taped a ‘Could do better’ certificate to their door – of course they knew it was us but thought it very funny.
Feeling that their room needed jollying up a bit more Helen and I went to the Pound shop at lunchtime and spent a fiver on the most tasteless décor we could find (not difficult in the Pound shop), which included an oversized tacky banner, a battery operated door plaque with Merry Christmas that flashed on and off and a full length door curtain made of shimmering multi-coloured strips of Lametta.
We sneaked in early the next morning and proceeded to glam up their office, streaming the oversized banner in zig zag fashion across their very low ceiling and completing the look with large dangly baubles. When we had finished it looked like a bad version of Santa’s Grotto complete with a singing Santa, positioned just outside the glittery door curtain, so he would be triggered into song as soon as anyone passed through.
We then went back to our own office and waited. It wasn’t long before everyone started arriving and we kept hearing the shrieks of laughter down the corridor. Of course they all knew instantly who would be the culprits but we kept a straight face and denied all knowledge – it was the best £5 we had ever spent and somehow Miss T and J managed to work the rest of the week in their ‘grotto’ and even the Management saw the funny side, though Singing Santa did have restricted hours after the first day for all our sanity.
After Helen died, Christmas at work was never the same for me; the laughter and spirit in the office seemed to die with her.
As many long term readers of my blog may know, in remembrance on this day each year I take some flowers round to her mum, nothing elaborate just a small posy of flowers that I make up myself to say she is not forgotten.
We have a little chat and a catch up and remember Helen together. Whilst I am carefully assembling and wrapping the flowers I am often deep in thought remembering all the people in my life that are no longer with us this Christmas.
I might shed a tear or two but it is not a sad day – I am remembering all those happy memories.
11 Replies to “creating Christmas * day 8…a day for remembering”
That is such a sweet rememberance of your friend.
She will never be forgotten she was a good friend and colleague. If ever she thought I was having a bad day at work she would slip into the kitchen and come back with a hot chocolate for me. It was always the little things she did that meant so much.
It’s so lovely to have a friend like that and I’m so sorry you lost her so early.
My heart goes out to you as I know exactly how you feel. I lost my best friend in 2004, the year I met Alan. She was just 45. We used to joke when we were teenagers that we wanted to die in our forties while we were still youngish and beautiful … for her sadly that came true. Now I live on for the both of us, just as you can do funny and wacky things in memory of Helen. The flowers are beautiful, it must really help her Mum to know someone cares and remembers her daughter each year. ❤️🤗
I think it is nice for her mum to know that as time goes on she is still remembered. I used to do a bunch for her daughters but they are both grown up now and flwn the nest and we used to light a candle at work on reception but I rather think that with all the change of staff now there are few that will have ever known her. 🌈
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I loved reading this post CJ. You put your friendship into words beautifully. What a blessing that you found each other though for a short time. Thank you again for sharing your life and memories.
She was a treasure – it was a pleasure to go to work every day.
It sounds like you had a wonderful and true friendship. You must miss her terribly.
I hope it is of some comfort to her mum knowing she is remembered so fondly. X
It is sad for her mum as her mum survived breast cancer herself only to then lose her daughter to it. Helen was her only daughter and they were close because when her mum’s marriage split up Helen stayed with her mum but her dad took the son with him (Helen’s twin brother) so Helen never knew her brother for years and now he is united with his mum again but he also has cancer and it looks like her mum might lose him one day too. xx
Such a sad story, especially for her poor Mum, with her son not well either. Taking a posy round to her is a kind and special thing to do, these little things mean a lot.
She is such a lovely lady and when we had our chat I learned that she too had been very ill and in hospital after blacking out getting off the bus because of a bleed in her brain and yet she keeps so cheerful.🎄
How lovely that you remember your friend at this time of year. It sounds like you had so much fun together at work. You must miss her a lot. Laughter is such a precious thing and having someone in your life who can make you laugh or who you always have a laugh with is priceless.
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