Why the chaos of our family life made this our most memorable Christmas

I shall never forget my first Christmas with my wife Jacqui! The only thing is, it wasn’t Christmas itself that was so memorable, it was the chaos of our lives that made our first Christmas together so special.

We had only been married a few months before, followed almost immediately by a hectic, thirty-two day ocean cruise, then settling in, in a new country; finding a flat and really getting to know each other. We were also a world away from our families, and had very little money, having spent most of what we did have providing ourselves with the basic requirements of a new home.


Christmas-memorable-brian-lee-starts at sixty


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Jacqui had also been taken quite ill very soon after our arrival in New Zealand and had to spend several months in hospital – not an ideal situation for a young, freshly married couple, very much in love and bursting with hormones! She had to take daily doses of some enormous streptomycin tablets for the Tuberculosis shadow she was suffering from, as well as having to have an enormous amount of fluid drained from her chest cavity, a particularly unpleasant procedure, which left her very tired.

Fortunately, in the end, the somewhat brutal treatment she received did its work and she has been in perfect health for over fifty years, apart from the normal illnesses we all suffer, and increasing age!

What it meant though, was that we were like a couple of tigers when she returned home to our flat, resulting in a happy pregnancy and the eventual birth of our daughter, Kerry Jane.

You will have noticed that Christmas still hasn’t arrived in this story, but we had already experienced as much adventure and excitement as most young couples might have enjoyed in their first couple of years of marriage – the hectic social round on board an ocean liner for over a month, another perhaps even more hectic period of finding our way through a new life in a new country, the stress, particularly in Jacqui’s case, of being separated from her mother, especially later in the year, when Kerry started making her internal presence felt!

On top of all this, we now also had a house being built, which was due to be completed before Christmas, just one more item to keep us fully occupied during that year.

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By the time the Christmas season came around, we were happy but pretty well washed up for the time being. We’d started making friends with a few of the people where I worked, but not yet really to the extent that we’d be invited to their homes over the holiday, and for Jacqui it was even worse, moving into a brand new home, pregnant, not knowing anyone, and with half the houses around us still not finished or occupied!

But somehow,we got by!

Christmas day arrived – and we didn’t know it! So busy had we been, so wrapped up in everything that urgently needed our attention, that on the fateful morning, we completely forgot! It sounds silly to say it now, because we had bought presents for each other and Jacqui had bought in extra, festive food for us, but I think our minds were temporarily burnt out.

The one funny occurrence in this period was when Jacqui went to the local butcher to buy a chicken for us to enjoy for Christmas Day lunch. The butcher asked her what size bird she wanted, and in her innocence she said she thought one about fourteen pounds would suit! The stunned butcher nearly fell into his brining vat!

So, that first Christmas was certainly memorable, if only for the fact that for us it didn’t really exist at all, something we’ve taken care to ensure never happened again, especially as our family grew to three kids, who wouldn’t have let us forget about Christmas, even if we’d wanted to.

What has been your most memorable Christmas and why??