I used to look forward to Christmas so much. My cousins, Stephen and Paul would come round for Christmas day, along with my Aunty Kath and Uncle Norman, my Nan and Granddad, joining my Mum, Dad, Brother Richard and I. We’d play games and spend the holiday as a family. Seeing them meant so much more than any gift under the tree. These people who I will always love but very rarely see now, influenced my writing, some of them even became characters. It’s how I keep them with me, so they’ll never really leave. Christmas is smaller now. This year it’s just me, my son, my ex and our cats. A modern micro dysfunctional family. But back in the eighties, back in a distant happier time, Christmas past, haunts me. I wish I could take my son back there, so he could experience the joy and delight my childhood self was given by her own rather more traditional, stable family. We were close, and I felt safe and loved and wanted. I still do, but as an adult things have become somewhat complicated and I’m quite disconnected. My dad died, right before Christmas 1995. Things changed. There seems to be a natural disintegration with strong families. Eventually people move away, they die, they become distant. Unless of course you’re lucky enough to build a large family of your own, but that didn’t happen for me.
I’m sitting here watching A Nightmare Before Christmas. It was the first film that made me laugh again, after dad’s death. It was dark humour, and I appreciated that it reflected how random and apparently chaotic life can become. There is no good, and no evil. Things are much more complicated. As a Christian I had been sheltered from different perspectives and from the bad world outside. That sense of protection had gone, when dad died. But before then, I believed if you prayed hard enough God would protect the people you loved. That isn’t true. In fact if you look at how lucky people are in the western world, and how little other people have, you can see that the concept is very naive and redundant. My dad’s death has influenced a lot of my writing, and my sense of my own mortality has driven me to the extent that I hardly exist outside of my own writing. I often wonder what I’d be like if he were still here, I’d probably be happier, probably may not have made so many mistakes in my life. I know that Unbound Boxes Limping Gods, wouldn’t exist in the form it does now. Although Alexand Merek chose me to tell her story, I wasn’t as driven, wasn’t as frightened of ending, of becoming nothing, before dad died. I believed I would live forever and that allowed me to procrastinate when it came to my writing. If I’m truthful it’s a lot less painful living in Alexand’s world, translating it into stories and illustrations. There are little stop gaps which remind me I should be living outside in the real world, one of those gaps is Christmas.