In turbulent times there is something reassuring as Christmas comes round once again. It is a time to reflect, to sit, to talk, to laugh, to think and, at the centre of it all, it is of course a time to feast and to gather together. It can, however, also be a time of mixed blessings: a time which reminds you of those you miss and of those you have lost, the empty places, the voices no longer heard and the missing smiles.
Our father died too young and I, my sisters and our mother tumbled towards our first Christmas in grief and loss, trying to put one foot in front of the other. Our mother died not long afterwards and so there was another Christmas where there was a huge gap.
We are no different from many other families and we have just held an event here to support the Murray Parish Trust which was set up by Jim and Sarah in memory of their young daughter Ella-Jayne. Grief is not a competition; it is here and with us every day even if it can’t be seen. It is different for all of us, there is no timetable or resolution and yet conversely, despite the mixed blessings, Christmas is important simply because it is an annual marker and is about supporting and understanding. It is okay to be sad or to need help whether from loss or divorce or all the challenges that life throws at us.
Today, we celebrate what is essentially a “Victorian” Christmas, engendered and inspired by the spirit of Charles Dickens’ book “A Christmas Carol”, which transformed society’s view of Christmas. Dickens had known poverty and hunger as a boy and the characters in his books that share and enjoy lavish feasts are good people. One of the most memorable scenes in the book is that of the Cratchit family contentedly gathered round the fire with their roasted goose, apples and oranges, chestnuts and “speckled cannon ball” pudding.
In the past, in order to pave the way for a feast there was often a traditional period of fasting beforehand, in this case, Advent. With the arrival of supermarkets and 24 hour shopping the gathering and storing of food has become somewhat easier and the theory of holding back before the Christmas feast has, to a large extent, disappeared.
This year I am looking forward to Christmas, with eagerness and delight both for all its significance, as well as its sense of comforting reassurance. I and my sisters never forget but do accept that this is our life today. Now it is about remembering – of how my father put the turkey in the oven the night before to cook slowly (having sealed it first for 20 minutes), of how he loved to fry left over Christmas pudding in brown sugar and butter for pudding at subsequent lunches (highly recommended) and of my mother writing plays for my sisters to act out. They were normally about back to front words or stories and our mother laughed so much as she wrote which then turned into great entertainment (in that they were not very good) as my sisters acted them out. I tended to narrate.
This year it is my husband’s first Christmas after his mother’s death and his turn, once more, to experience the empty place at the table. Writing about this time of year has, I think, helped give me quietude. Christmas is coming, with a sense of anticipation and a reminder that it is a time for the smallest of children to be at the centre of lives and for the rest of us to remember what it is to be a child at heart – to continue to splash through muddy puddles and over indulge in too many sweets.
Thank you for these thoughts. Our family has too many empty places at the table, and you are spot on that grief is different for each of us. The memories become more important each year. May you and yours have a happy Christmas filled with warm and beautiful memories.
Thank you – and yours too.
This is a lovely piece. Happy Christmas to all ‘Aitkens’ from all Norfolks x
Thank you Annie, it is about getting up again
I am facing my first Christmas without my mother who passed away unexpectedly the end of September. Your piece brought tears to my eyes and gave me great comfort.
Take care and all best wishes
Christmas blessings xx
What a wonderful woman you are, I mean that sincerely as I met you in Highclere in 2015 while visiting with a friend to “Downton”. Very shortly after I encountered an illness that has changed my perspective on life and relates totally to what you have said and those we have lost. You impressed me then and continue to do so. It is down to you that I am a recipient of your blog which is always entertaining, informative but most important of all enlightening. I do not know how, but in your monumental schedule you take the time to reflect and share which is so appreciated.
Thank you for reading and replying!
Happy New Year to everybody. My name is Margaryta Yermolayeva. I would like to introduce myself to the blog. I just joined. I am an artist located in the United States and am fascinated by Highclere Castle. I look forward to communicating.
Thank you how nice to hear from you
Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts and experiences today. It is a reminder that none of us are immune to grief. Your Victorian style Christmas sounds wonderful.
Thank you for continuing to write and share your life with others. I look forward to Monday morning ( in the USA) to read your blog. Happy Christmas to you and your family.
Very comforting words, my dad is gone my aunt, and my husband, but life goes on as we hold memories in our hearts
Life goes on …Happy Christmas
Love this! We all have empty chairs around the table. Have a wonder holiday!
Thank you- Happy Christmas to you and your family
This is beautifully written. Many thanks to you and Merry Christmas!
You are kind – Merry Christmas
Wishing you all a Wonderful Christmas, Although Memories Surface We are lucky we have Them…Very Best Wishes for 2020.
Thank you for putting it so well
Merry Christmas to your family! You describe beautifully the feelings of loss and of joy & peace that we all cherish.
Merry Christmas to you and all those you love.
Lovely description of love and loss. I realized after losing my husband three months ago, the the shared experiences of our life, made wonderful memories to sustain me. Blessings to you and all you hold dear.
This is beautifully written and so very true of all of us! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas! And may the memories of the past bring happiness, smiles and laughter, making this glorious day that much greater!
Thank you very much
Happy Christmas Lady Carnarvon. The first Christmas is always the most difficult when a family member passes. However, when the adults speak of it, we try to bring up the happiest memories of Christmas past, the laughter, love and joy those family members brought to our lives. Yes, it is bittersweet, but to have the gift of those memories makes it less sad.
May you and your family remember the happiest times spent with those who have passed. Merry Christmas!
You are quite right, talking and reminiscing with my sisters about our parents and our Christmas traditions always brings a smile to our faces.
I too just lost my Dad on December 5th of this year. He was 91. My Mom died 6 years prior.
It is a sad time not having he and my Mom with us this Holiday Season, but all my siblings are
here in Connecticut for Christmas. I believe that it will bring us closer together. I know that God
works in ways that tests all of us to be better people and to endure ups and downs in life. Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy New Year. Hope to visit again soon!!
Mary Hoffnagle, New Hartford, Ct.
Being with your siblings will help with the feelings of loss I am sure. Have a wonderful time.
Merry Christmas to you and you family.
And to you.
Tears are flowing in gratitude to
You for so warmly expressing everything i feel. My husband died in August. He will be sorely missed. Thank you
for your generosity and sharing
Throughout the year. We, your friends, appreciate you and long for your emails to arrive.
Wishes for a blessed Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year.
Thank you. I hope the happy memories of your husband will help you through this difficult time.
Perfect words for this time of year. Relish the past and look on to the future!
Bless you, your family, and the dogs!
Happy Christmas to you and all at Highclere that have helped to prepare Christmas for you.
After a few drinks you may not hear the reindeer on the roof.
Watched Downton series 2, to get me in the mood for Christmas.
Have a cool Yule.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
My sentiments to your husband and all who are suffering with Christmas grief. It can be a very difficult time and words do not always assist in easing one’s grief.
Nevertheless, it does seem appropriate to share the words that were conveyed by an old friend from school days:
“I hope you and your family have a very blessed Christmas as we reflect on the gift of God’s son Jesus. May 2020 bring you much joy and thankfulness for God’s continued rich blessings freely given to us.”
And so too do I convey my best wishes to the entire Carnarvon (extended) family and friends as well as all fellow bloggers (my ‘Monday family’) and their loved ones.
It has been an absolute pleasure communicating with Lady Carnarvon and each of you, reading your comments and sharing in your likes, dislikes and daily events. Thank you.
I wish you all a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year. May 2020 hold for you everything that you wish for your selves.
I will conclude with an old Irish blessing, which I think properly translated is as follows:
“May peace and plenty be the first to lift the latch on your door, and may happiness be guided to your home by the candle of Christmas.”
What lovely words, thank you.
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM BRAZIL ,TO YOU AND YOURS.
I came looking for this! 🙂 Happy holidays to my favorite commenter!
Thank you Maria.
Thank you Lisa.
Season’s Greetings and best wishes to you and your loved ones.
Merry Christmas to you and your family Jeffery.
Safe travels to All.
Kim and family, Gold Coast
Thank you, Kim.
Best wishes and seasons greetings to you and your family too.
Thank you Jeffery for the best wishes to the “Monday family” Merry Christmas to you and your family as well
This blog truly Blessed my Heart. Prayers for your husband to have comfort as he faces his first Christmas without his mother, and Peace to you and all your Family during this Holiday Season.
Thank you – and to you too.
Such a lovely way of putting into words all that touches the heart for many of us as well.
Wishing you both a very Happy Christmas full of comfort and peace.
Such beautiful sentiments, so beautifully written.
When I told my Mom about my wonderful visit to Highclere last May, she was so excited!
I never imagined that this would be, like the Earl’s, my first Christmas without my Mom. She passed away on December 6, her 100th birthday. (Always with that knack for clever detail 🙂
My heartfelt sympathies to all of you on the loss of the Dowager Countess, and very warmest wishes for lovely memories this Christmas season.
Saint Louis, Missouri
Thank you – what a remarkable age your Mother reached. I hope your first Christmas without her will still be filled with cheer.
I think about our lost loved ones too. And this will be my first Christmas with cancer. Your post today has touched me, as usual. To add to your many hats: spiritual minister! I love you so much. I wish you and your loved ones peace and joy this week!
You are kind – please look after yourself this Christmas, a little self-care is needed every now and then.
Merry Xmas, Lady Carnarvon. Thank you for sharing your blogs, so full of uplifting images of life, every Monday. It’s a comforting way to start the week.
Thank you for such lovely insight to your family and pictures. Merry Christmas to you and your family and staff. Many blessings to all of you in the coming year.
Thank you – and to you.
Perfectly stated! Christmas can get overwhelming and this year I have looked to the beautiful lights and found my memories with loved ones smiling and soooo enjoying our precious family time with joy. Merry Christmas!
Thank you so much for expressing so well the feeling of loss that we have at Christmas for our loved ones that have passed away. My brother passed away on Christmas day many years ago but even though we remember him with some sadness God reminds us of the happy times we shared together and although the chair may be empty our hearts are full with his love.
May your husband in time feel this immense love too.
Wishing a Peaceful Christmas to you and all your family wherever they are.
Losing a loved one at Christmas is even more difficult, I am so sorry.
Your beautiful and honest post about Christmas remembrance brought tears. Both of my parents have passed away, and I too know what is like to have empty places at the table. My mother passed away suddenly in July, so it is still fresh. Adjusting to the new normal takes time.
Still, there are many blessings to celebrate and cherish. My twin boys are a reminder that the Christmas spirit is alive and well. Big kids still have that sense of excitement and anticipation, and it is lovely. My parents are looking down and smiling as we enjoy our sweets enjoy another Christmas together.
Happy Christmas to you and yours!
What a lovely sentiment – you are right of course.
Happy Christmas! This year my husband and I are experiencing the loss of friends that have not died, but are no longer a part of our lives! We have no reason why as they stopped speaking overnight. Sometimes people are in your life for a season or so and move on. I always love your beautiful memories of family and friends and special events.
What a shame, but you are right to move on.
I believe Our God has a reason for removing people (as in your case) from our lives. We have experienced this as well, not only with friends but also a few family members. I have reached out to them, saying, “If we have offended you in some way, we certainly apologize!” It hurts. But we do not know — they do not tell us, saying, “Maybe some other time…”, which never seems to come.
Please just have FAITH when these things happen.
God Bless you and may you have a beautiful, happy and MERRY CHRISTMAS, with many blessings to come in the new year.
Your friend at heart,
Beautifully written, a wonderful Christmas message to us all! Our smallest of children were certainly the center of our Christmas this year as we celebrated this past weekend. Today my husband will drive my daughter and her family to the airport as they begin their 2nd Christmas adventure, celebrating with my son-in-law’s family in England. We feel very blessed to have them in our lives and are grateful for our shared families.
As we remember those no longer with us, I know they are looking down with pride at the legacy they left and their holiday traditions that live on through us.
Merry Christmas to you and yours and all the best in the New Year!
Thank you – and Merry Christmas to you too.
As we get older, holidays become more bittersweet. You have captured that beautifully but also reminded us that those memories make these holidays richer. Thanks also for the reminder that we can make new memories by giving of ourselves to others.
Happy Christmas to you and I am looking forward to more posts in the new year!
Thank you – you are completely right of course.
How much all of the comments bless me post reading such an endearing blog. My. Husband passed on December 7th a few years ago so each holiday is filled with smiles and tears…But as one reader stated ,we press on in faith creating new memories. Donna in Idaho.
Happy Christmas and New Year
I wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year!
Thank you – and to you too.
Reading this lovely blog does indeed bring back memories of those long gone, or recently have left us unexpectedly. We try to blink back the tears as we remember the happy memories and determine to move forward, doing those things that we know they would want us to do – remembering others in the memory of our loved ones, trying to help as best we can the less fortunate who need extra doses of love and generosity in this precious time of the year.
May your memories be sweet as the bells ring out.
May the Christmas and New Year bring new and happy memories.
Blessings to you all,
Thank you – and to you too.
Holiday Post Script: Your Christmas Quiche from “Christmas at Highclere” will be on our breakfast table Christmas morn!
Ooh how lovely! Please let me know which other recipes you like.
Wishing you the magic of the season, with wonderful memories of the past and wishes for health, happiness and playful new stories in 2020.
Thank you – and to you too.
This reminds me of the lovely chats my sisters & I have when we get to meet up, always reminiscing about our dear departed parents, such lovely memories….Have A very Happy Christmas….
Greetings and a Merry Christmas from Melkbosstrand, Cape Town
Do share your Christmas Pudding in brown sugar and butter recipe, please
Regards Ailene Bulloch
It is in Christmas at Highclere I think but I will
Thank you for your thoughtful words today. My oldest brother passed away yesterday morning and even though he had not recovered from a stroke he had last August and we knew he didn’t have long, the loss is still great. Where there were four siblings, there is now three and I think this has made us face our own mortality. My other two brothers and I have always known to try and keep each other close and stay in touch but with this passing, we are now even more resolved to be together as often as we possibly can. Dealing with grief during the holidays can be one of the most difficult things we will have to do but we celebrate my brother’s life and know that he is in a better place now. Thank you for reminding me that we need to express our love for each other while we are together and appreciate one another. A very happy Christmas to you and your family from us in Chicago.
Thank you – and to you too
Very well said and beautifully written.
Thank you for this touching post. I sit here reading it at the foot of my Mom’s hospice bed. Oh how I will miss her. She is 91 and what a blessing she has been to our large family. It will be difficult to let here go. New traditions will be made and life will go on. I am so lucky to have had a wonderful Mom and role model for my life. I had the joy of visiting your home in August. I loved reading your latest book and being reminded just how important family is. Christmas Blessings to you and your family.
I am so sorry to hear this, but you are right that new traditions will sit alongside your old ones and new memories will be made.
I hope those that we have lost, will be remembered Christmas Day with many “remember when” and then a story or incident that will bring smiles and laughter around the table. They are alive in our hearts and minds and especially when we recall their lives. Happy Christmas to all.
Thank you, you are completely right.
A lovely tribute….thank you….May you and your family enjoy a wondrous Christmas and joyous New Year!!!
And you too!
I’ve never used the word
It’s so lovely.
And so embraceable.
Thank you and
Blessings for a wonderful holiday season.
Thank you- Happy Christmas to you and your family
To Lady Carnarvon wishing you &all your family a very joyful happy Christmas sure our loved ones who are gone before us are very much with us in spirit God bless you and yours xx.
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
THANK YOU MILADY FOR YOUR BEAUTIFUL WORDS
YOU REMINDED ME OF OLD CHRISTMAS WHEN MY BELOVED PARENTS WERE ALIVE.
IF MY PARENTS WERE ALIVE I WOULD LOVE HER CHRISTMAS BOOK AND ESPECIALLY THAT “NHOC”.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM BRAZIL
IT’S RAINING A LOT HERE AND IT HASN’T SNOWED YET???
RIO CLARO – SP
Thank you for a well thought and written post. Four years ago the empty place was my brother’s, who died of cancer before he turned 60. The following Christmas we had concerns over my father’s health as he was fighting cancer. Last year, the day after Christmas on my parent’s 64th anniversary we discovered my Mother’s cancer and this Christmas the empty place is hers. As I am caring for my ailing father, these words resonate deeply with me. Bless you at this Christmas time.
It is so hard to understand!My thoughts are with you Happy Christmas
You all are in our thoughts and prayers this Christmas. Such a lovely tribute to your loved ones. I know it is especially difficult for Geordie this year after just losing his mum. It is most difficult to enter into a holiday with exuberant joy when you remember the loss of someone you loved so dearly. May memories of those you have lost sustain you and bring you smiles this holiday. (Your memory of your mother certainly made me smile.)
Sending love and blessings to you all for a very Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year!
Patsy thank you – and I know we will go on our adventures next year ! I hope all the engagements do come off
Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Beautifully written. I wish for your family a very Happy Christmas and New Year!
Much love from the Seng Family in Bolingbrook, IL.
Lisa Seng Cosgrove
Bolingbrook IL USA
Thank you- Merry Christmas to you and your family
Thanks for a well written and thoughtful blog entry. My parents are gone quite a long time now but it’s the one time of the year to remember all that is good about Family and Christmas. It’s heartbreaking to read some of the replies above and I hope all of these folks can find peace this year, difficult as that may be. Life is short, we all must become better at helping each other through tough times. Be sure to light a candle for all above and Have a peaceful Christmas.
Carpe Diem – Happy Christmas
From the many responses you have clearly struck a chord with many. It is good to remember that Christmas is not a picture of perfection. It is a special time that includes sadness from changes and loss.
That said, remember those you love, then enjoy those who remain.
Merry Christmas to all.
Love reading what you write, even when sad. I hope you dream with your loved ones. It is a way to say hi to them. Some day we will be reunited with all of them. Mean while, enjoy life. May you have a very merry Christmas. You have brought much joy to so many including myself. Thanks.
I feel grateful that you all read it and this Monday Highclere club is part of my life -Happy Christmas
Christmas is always a hard time for people who have lost loved ones, even though I lost my grandparents 9 years and then 7 years ago, not a day goes by that myself and my mum don’t talk about them,. Especially at Christmas when we always fondly remember the good times that we had and of course feel fortunate that we had them. Wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas xx
Thank you – Happy Christmas to you and your family
Once again your heart reaches out to everyone and leaves a bit of light. I have just returned from a son’s wedding; the seat next to mine was marked by a floral arrangement for my late husband. I insisted my mother-in-law(90+) sit on the front row with me. As an adult orphan, it was a bit much to sit on the front row by myself. Soon, my late husband’s siblings/spouses completed the row. We were a family in that moment of mixed sorrow/joy. I insisted on a photo of her with bride and groom(my son). It grew to include the siblings/spouses, children et al. What a beautiful memory that will be. My picture with the bride and groom was just us and quite a telling moment. However, my heart is full with the love my son has pledged and the words his bride spoke to me. I danced with all my sons. The love was palpable. The end of this year is close. I anticipate a fulfilling year ahead as we all move forward into new experiences and I have a weathertight roof over my head again! Blessings on all who share, read and send greetings on your Blog.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year with compassion to you and your family.
God bless all your family and Happy Christmas.
Happy Christmas, Lady Carnarvon. It is a wonderful time of the year for our little ones and a bittersweet time for those of us whose ones who are no longer with us.
Your Victorian Christmas sounds delightful. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your life.
As Tiny Tim so said, God bless us every one.
God bless us all
Many thanks to you and Merry Christmas!
Dear Lady Carnarvon
Thank you for your lovely words. I too have sadly lost my beloved parents and my brother at a young age. I am so sorry for all those who had suffered a bereavement this year, this first Christmas can be difficult and painful.
As my father said to me just before he died when we were putting the world to rights, “whatever happens “they” can never take your memories away from you”. This is very true. Hang on to those wonderful memories.
As a child, Christmas for me and for my brother was magic. We had a beautiful manor house with large open fires and big chilly rooms with large paintings! Each year on the 23rd December my father would collect all the greenery and pine and he would decorate once we had gone to bed and in the morning when I came down everywhere looked like fairy land and the smell of pine was wonderful. Our Christmas tree was cut from the garden just before Christmas and as it was so fresh and there was no danger of fire, we had real candles with original holders from my grandparents. (If those candle holders could talk!)Today every hour my grandfather clock reminds me of magical days from the past and my beloved parents. As a child I would lie awake in bed, listening to every hour chime throughout the night, full of excitement and anticipation of what the morning would bring. I have so much to thank them for, for their love and for the happy memories.
God bless everyone suffering from bereavement this year.
Lady Carnavon, I would like to wish you and all your family a very Happy Christmas from the Channel Islands.
Thank you – there are many good things and I hope my glass is usually half full! Happy Christmas
Merry Christmas to you and yours Lady Carnarvon!!
Our empty seat this year will be in honor of our son-in-law serving overseas. He is missed everyday, but even more so this holiday season. I grew up lighting the Channukah candles with my family, and this Christmas, we’ll light the fourth candle, eat delicious potato latkes, open presents from under tree, and enjoy sons, daughter, grandkids, movies, popcorn, and be thankful for just spending time together.
Thank you for sharing the stories of your childhood. Your parents, like mine, gave you and your siblings such grand and beautiful memories.
Wishing you and your family a peaceful holiday.
May he stay safe – Happy Christmas
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for kind words about grief. My father passed away September 12th. I miss him terribly. He was always a happy guy, telling jokes and being my biggest cheerleader. In his eyes, there was nothing I couldn’t do. So this Christmas is a time of transition and adjustment.
Merry Christmas to you and your family and wishing the best for the New Year.
Happy Christmas – he is still with you
Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts with us. Wishing you and yours the happiest of Christmases
What sad but lovely thoughts of our loved ones who are no longer here to celebrate Christmas with us this year.
I just starting reading “Christmas at Highclere.” Really interested to see all you prepare for for the Holidays.
Have a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
Thank you, there are many layers to the book , I hope you enjoy it
Merry Christmas everyone time to reflect think of the blessings in our life’s
Thank you for this. It’s been a difficult year with the loss of my grown children’s dad and my brother Ed. We look forward to being together at Christmas to remember them and enjoying our grandchildren. I wish u and your family the loveliest of Christmases with beautiful memories .
Not an easy time for you, I am so sorry but I think the ritual of Christmas sort of helps
Heart to heath time trims the family tree. The joyous time this Christmas season is a celebration of family. The roots of tradition are deep. I share your Christmas spirit. God bless us everyone…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. From my Granzella Tree to yours.
Dear Lady Carnarvon
Thank you for your very kind words to us all – a cherished gift. Thank you again. Best wishes for Christmas at Highclere.
Thank you for the wonderful Christmas Blog.
Memories are to be cherished.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year
Kathleen from Canada
I so enjoy your beautifully written articles and I share them with friends. This one was especially moving as I thought of my family members who have passed on. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. You touch so many peoples’ lives in such a positive way. Thank you!
Merry Christmas and blessing for a happy and healthy new year.
From the state of Georgia (USA)
Your wisdom and appreciation of Christmas is an encouraging reminder of the changing nature of this holiday as the years pass. Thanks for reminding me of the understanding and even more reasons to celebrate! “Happy Christmas”!
Happy Christmas to you and your family
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for a lovely blog, Christmas is a time for remembering those we have lost, and the happy memories we shared with them. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year.
Lorraine and family.xxx
Only look back briefly Lady Carnarvon, just remember your parents loved you and they always will. Nothing has changed. They are waiting for you in the next world. Live for today and try and bring happiness to those around you, because so many people need it. May you have a wonderful Christmas and wishing you and all your family, health and happiness in 2020. Have fun tomorrow!!
Heather from Australia
I do try to go forwards..Happy Christmas!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
My deepest condolences to you and your husband on the loss of his Mother. I’ve hear the first holiday after is the roughest. My Dad died on December 4th, 2005. That was his 92nd birthday and 14 years ago. At times it seems like only months ago. I hope you hold her memory dear as this Holiday Season unfolds. I’m sure there are “things” that only she could do. Remember them fondly.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy 2020.
Thank you- Happy Christmas to you too.
Beautifully written, with heart felt emotion. No ones missing this year in our home, thankfully but still feeling a bit sad. Its been a difficult year and as I reflect, I’m happy to move forward to 2020. I loved visiting your home in October. Hoping to get back in the fall. Thank you for this. I needed it more than I knew:) Merry Christmas
Happy Christmas – and do come back
James L JohnsonLady Carnarvon,
Thank you for sharing your most treasured thoughts of your family at this Christmas time.
May Lord Carnarvon’s loss be softened by the care of your family and friends.
May your and your family share all the blessings of Christmas and the New Year.
Thank you – Merry Christmas
Dear Lady Carnarvon
I do so enjoy reading your blog, this one is particularly dear to my heart.
We too have a new empty place at our table this Christmas. My lovely partner Steve, who lit up my life for the last 4 years, left us just a few days ago on the 21st December after a short illness. It was unexpected and a huge blow to both our families, a good person taken too soon at just 65 years of age.
Particularly poignant for his children as his wife had passed on 20th December 2010, and my husband passed away on 31st December 7 years ago.
We will remember all the wonderful times shared with all of them and know they are with us in spirit.
I wish you and your family a peaceful Christmas.
Oh my goodness I am so sorry for you all -this is from my Christmas book
May you have –
Walls for the wind
And a roof for the rain,
And drinks bedside the fire
Laughter to cheer you
And those you love near you,
And all that your heart may desire
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for your kind message in your blog. Very often we think we are the only ones who are feeling devestated during the holiday season. This year in particular has been a hard season for me. But as you so succinctly pointed out, we are not alone in our losses of family members. It is a poignant fact of the human condition known universally.
Blessings to you all and Merry Christmas and best wishes for the coming New Year.
Thank you Merry Christmas
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
You words are taken to heart.
I was single for many years and away from family but I was often invited to the homes of friends and workmates. My married years, however, made for very special Christmases. And, last year my Ancestry DNA report shows that I am 89% British and 11% Scot-Irish. I have also discovered some interesting ancestors. Sir Francis Walsingham who served as Ambassador to France and the principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I from 1573 to 1590 making concrete the case against Mary Queen of Scots that led to her execution. The Walsinghams, as you may know, date back to the early 1200’s. Sir Richard Walsingham 1326-1365 serving under Edward III having been born the year before his reign 1327. It gives me much satisfaction to remember them and my all my family and ancestors especially at Christmas.
I think Christmas is an anchor in our busy lives..
Your words, thoughts, and memories have touched many, I’m sure.
In the early hours of the Friday after American Thanksgiving, our friends lost their only son, Gordon, in a fiery, single car crash. He was 28. Gordon was bigger than life and loved by everyone.
Between 300 and 400 people of all ages came to Gordon’s Celebration of Life service. That included 20 or so of Gordon’s Sigma Chi brothers from his days at the University of Alabama. They came from all over the USA.
I think Gordon’s family’s grief is too raw this year. But I’m saving your lovely blog post to share next Christmas.
Thank you for making time to share your thoughts. Wishing you, and especially your husband, peace and joy this Christmas.
Bonnie Bartel Latino
Words can’t express the unutterable sadness and pain for the undone years
Thank you for your eloquent words about loss. This Christmas morning will mark the 40th year my mother died on Christmas morning. Unlike other dates I can never forget this one. I am so sorry for her loss but I’m truly thankful for the wonderful friends and family that have bloomed since. It’s a strange time to look back but also a wonderful time to experience now and look forward too. Wishing you the best holiday ever and a smashing, magical new year! Love Judi
Thank you – we all need a bit of magic!
The series Downton Abbey got me through some very difficult times. I fell in love with the series and watched it several times. During that period in my life I was taking care of my mom full-time she had dementia and passed away last year just before Christmas.
I couldn’t acknowledge the holidays last year because it was just something I couldn’t bring myself to do. Christmas was also a holiday my mom loved very much and now this year I find myself by myself… both my parents are now gone and I don’t have a healthy relationship with my siblings. So this Christmas I’m not sure how to celebrate I only hope that future Christmas seasons are of happier times but for this year it’s just another day.
Sometimes when I am most down I go and find something to do – I am sure there are homeless charities near you who would so appreciate some help
My 87 year old father had a massive stroke this week and as we work to bring all the power of the various therapies into place to restore his voice and physical strength, we pause to make sure that all the littlest members of the family are still surrounded by the mysteries and merriment of the season. Mom’s Christmas Eve birthday will be celebrated quietly. As adults it is difficult to watch these difficult events ….my wish for your husband is to embrace the sweet memories and have a sense of peace in moving forward. Much love to all at Highclere and Happy Christmas.
Goodness me I am so sorry – that is a lot to bear
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Once again I want to thank you for your Monday morning post. You have been blessed with a gift for writing. You wrote all the things I would like to say in a letter to an old friend. My mother passed away just three weeks ago and there will be an empty place at the table. We will miss her terribly, however, three days later our first grandchild was born. His birth has brought great joy. It is the season to reflect, to talk with one another, and to look forward to what lies ahead.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Empty chairs at empty tables, and then baby in the stable. As I grow older I need the old stories more!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Your memories brought back my own as I grew up during the depression. I was one of eleven children, and although life was not easy, we were all together, and happy with very little. It is amazing how you can enjoy whatever circumstance you happen to be in. I actually survived, grew up and was privileged to visit your wonderful home in 2016!
Happy Christmas to you and your family!
Violet, a misplaced Texan living in Louisiana
I was just thinking today it is the silence and looking at the veined frosted leaf in winter, or splashing in a puddle
This Christmas in my home will be a sad but hope to remember happier times. My husband of 48 years passed away on December 3 rd after a long illness. I was his caregiver for 5 years. His last trip to England was in 2014 when I won the PBS sweepstakes and you met us the the front door before going inside for brunch.
He was a true Downton Abbey fan and was thrilled to bits to visit Highclere.
It is quiet and empty in my home now but we will keep his spirit alive.
Thank you for your writings from your heart, I look forward to reading them.
Thank you – it is about gathering up one’s thoughts as he was in a different way gathered up
Thank you for this lovely bit of writing.
Our family suffered the deaths of my youngest brother, his wife, and their daughter – on her 17th birthday – in a dive boat accident in early September. Our family is still reeling from the sudden and complete loss of cherished family members, way before their time. We’re all simply going through the motions this year, wishing it over.
Your reminder to take time to grieve, remember; to feel the loss but keep going, is timely and appreciated. Thank you.
My condolences to your husband and family as you make your way through the first season with a new empty place at your table. Wishing you all the best of the season.
I am so sorry, you are being asked for so much courage
This was beautiful, and very touching. We lost my Dad this morning, just 2 days before Christmas. I don’t think it has actually sunk in yet, and I am not really looking forward to the next couple of days. He was 93, and lived a long wonderful life, and yet…. trying to be very gentle with all those around as everyone handles grief in their own way. Blessings to you and your family.
I am so sorry for you. I think it does all seem surreal but perhaps that is almost a protection
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What a beautifully written piece.
We all remember at Christmas all of the lovely memories of the departed family members.
My mom and dad lived in Florida, and later on in life they came to live with me in New York City so I could care for them. They loved the city at Christmas, and when they were able we went out to see everything. It was truly magical, and still is. Now that they are both gone I walk the city at this time of year remembering them both. I go every year to my cousins house in Connecticut to Christmas dinner, and we toast all of the family members that are gone.
All year long you Write beautiful stories letting us in your life.
May you and your family have A Very Merry Christmas!
Toasts and gatherings – the same since time immemorial – Merry Christmas
DEAR LADY CARNARVON:
THANK-YOU FOR THIS TOUCHING AND EMOTIONAL BLOG. IT IS TRULY BEAUTIFUL.
I AM WRITING THIS ON CHRISTMAS EVE DAY, IT IS SUNNY AND DELIGHTFUL, THE NEXT FEW DAYS IN ONTARIO, CANADA ARE GOING TO BE BEAUTIFUL, GREAT FOR TRAVELLING TO LOVED ONES HOMES.
I AM NOW OFFICIALLY STARTING MY CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS FOR 6 DAYS, WHAT A TREASURE. CHRISTMAS IS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE TIMES OF THE YEAR.
WE TOO AS A FAMILY HAVE AN EMPTY CHAIR, AS MY DAD PASSED AWAY. THIS WILL BE OUR SECOND CHRISTMAS WITHOUT HIM. IT STILL SEEMS STRANGE TO CELEBRATE WITHOUT HIM.
YOUR BLOG BROUGHT ME HAPPINESS AND TEARS. IT REMINDS US WE ARE ALL CONNECTED AT THE HEART. WE REMEMBER LOVED ONES WHO ARE ALWAYS WITH US IN OUR HEARTS. TO CELEBRATE WITH THE LOVED ONES WHO ARE HERE AND REMEMBER OUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS WHOM WE LOVE. YES CHRISTMAS IS BEAUTIFUL, LET US CELEBRATE WITH LOVE AND HAPPINESS.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY, LADY CARNARVON. GOD BLESS.
I think you are right-the treasure is time
I love your whole paragraph about grief – Its so hard to explain and you said it so well. Love your tree in the library – so cozy – Reading your Xmas book and trying to get through another holiday without my favorite loved ones….Merry Christmas to you and your family
All best wishes to you – Merry Christmas
I had the opportunity to visit Highclere few months ago. It was a very beautiful experience that I keep in my unforgettable memories. I wish you from Miami, Fl. a very Merry Christmas.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Merry Christmas!! And, a Merry Christmas to all here. Most of us have much to rejoice and many blessings to count.
“See” you after Christmas!
God bless you, your husband and your family, Lady Carnarvon. Have a very merry Christmas from across the big pond!
Thank you and Happy Christmas to you!
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for expressing the same thoughts as mine, but in such a lovely gentle way. My father died in 2018 right before Christmas and so I now understand how oftentimes Christmas can be melancholy for so many. I want to also thank you for allowing Downton Abbey to be filmed in your lovely home. Although mine is much smaller and in Santa Fe, NM, I am a very private person and I imagine that have so many people (strangers) in your beautiful home would be so intrusive, no matter how much money they would be paying me. But, for those of us who are Downton Abbey fans, it is delightful to be able to see your lovely home and enjoy watching our favorite characters engage in their daily lives. Just last night my Mother and I watched the movie “Downton Abbey” once again. It is so comforting to be able to reimagine that world again. I think we will probably make it a holiday tradition.
Warmest Holiday Wishes….we are now leaving for the annual walk on Canyon Road in Santa Fe which is lit by candlelight and a wonder to behold, the a concert in the lovely Loretto Chapel. Merry Christmas!
Have a magical walk ..
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Think of how many lives you have touched with this weekly blog. You do know,however, that we would all be crushed if you were to ever stop writing!
May you and your family have a lovely Christmas and please give your husband a kiss for me. I lost my mom twenty one years ago and it still seems like yesterday. I hope there are lots of little ones around your table to bring you much joy and laughter. Merry Christmas.
Delray Beach, Florida
I enjoy writing and it has kept me in practice for when I turn to writing the books. I think,like any author, I am thrilled that people (you) care enough to read what I write. It comes from my heart and every heart is fragile
May Santa Claus bring everything you wished for and everyone at Highclere Castle. Merry Christmas.
Thank for sharing this. Happy Christmas to you and your family.
Happy Christmas to you and your family. It’s truly a beautiful time to reconnect with our feelings and memories of years past, as we look toward the future. We miss those who are no longer with us and reflect on their lives as they intersected with ours. My family has moved away and living their own lives and my husband (from Oldham) died six years ago. Odd how we end up in a far different scenario than we’d planned all those years ago, but good to know we have the opportunity to reflect, enjoy and love the memories we have stored in that special place in our hearts. May you have a blessed Christmas today and a truly successful year 2020.
Thank you – Happy Christmas to you
Thank you for your beautiful thoughts and condolences on the loss of your mother in law. My Mom died on December 13, 1998 and when someone passes close to Christmas, it always shadows the Holiday season, no matter how much time passes, especially since my Dad was not good with coping and passed away nine months later. Since I am an only child and my husband is Jewish, the Christmas I grew up with, ended in 1998. Each year, on Christmas day, I play the video I am fortunate enough to have from that last Christmas we all shared together. Not to be too maudlin, I do have a wonderful family who actually does a semblance of Christmas, but those you loose do always stay with you. Thank you for sharing. Blessings on you and yours for a wonderful New Year.
And a happy New Year to you!
Thank you for your thoughts and reflections. I too miss my parents. And my husband. I lost him to cancer.
But I do have my kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren; I am thankful.
Happy New year
Phyllis Simpson, USA
Happy New Year!
Mi padre partió cuando yo era pequeña , mi madre y hermano se fueron casi juntos hace ya mucho tiempo; mis Navidades siempre estuvieron incompletas sin embargo tengo la alegría de tener una hija hermosa que aún está conmigo y con la que comparto los relatos de la familia y los recuerdos.
Conozco los sentimientos en éstos días y a pesar de todo es el momento más feliz del año para mí.
Todos estamos incompletos pero la gente que amamos vive en nuestros corazones.
Espero que hayan pasado una cálida Nochebuena.
Muy Feliz Navidad!
Gracias – muy Feliz Navidad!
Thank you for this lovely and touching story; which is our very own story in different ways. I also lost a father at a young age; And, many aunts, uncles and friends that helped in my upbringing are also in heaven. So many people that are no longer in our lives. I too, share this sentiment. I remember them every day and thank God for all our blessings during the year. So we continue to make new beginnings for 2020. Wishing you and your loved ones, a special Happy Christmas and fabulous new year!!
Thank you and to you!
Thank you for sharing personal moments which I’m sure help so many get through their times of grief and longing.
Have a happy and healthy New Year!!
You too – Happy New Year!
Beautifully written. Thank you! I lost my daughter a month before Christmas 2015 and at times, I stand holding my breath, cherishing moments with a mix of unbearable pain. I appreciate the reflection and quiet provided in your words. God bless you and a have a wonderful Christmas.
With my prayers and thoughts to you
You write from the heart, and it’s both refreshing and soothing to read. Blessings to you and your family.
Merry Christmas Lady Carnarvon! I just read your post and decided to respond even though you have a new blog piece. Christmas put me behind this year.
I got to visit the wonderful Highclere Castle in May of this year. There was a landscaping talk and I happen to get tickets. I am from the United States. I was there touring Cornwall. How lucky was I to get a ticket to visit the castle! I enjoyed the talk and I was just beaming through the tour. Of course I am a huge DA fan which brought me over to England for a visit.
Your piece about Christmas was so right. Christmas is an emotional holiday as so many of us, well probably everyone has lost more than one special person who would sit at the dinner table. At our Christmas eve dinner, we honor them and take time to talk about them. So thank you for writing that it was lovely.
I love your photos you add to the blog and I am enjoying going back to read some of the blogs that I have missed. I did have to google your pudding, it looked so delicious. Is there a way I can find that recipe? I found some but none that looked as beautiful as yours!
I wish you a very happy New Year!
How kind – the recipes are in “Christmas at Highclere” I think.
I would like to be a part of your blog . I live in Virginia , USA
but originally from near Camberley , Surrey. So many memories from the UK.but with my parents not with us anymore l have not returned home in several years . Maybe some of your news from the UK will help to fill the emptiness l feel many thousands of miles away. A very happy New Year to you and your dear ones …………Daphne Burrows.
Thank you. I am sure you enjoy re watching “Downton” and hope you might try some of the books I have written. I began “Lady Almina” an extraordinary woman who did so much for others set against the First World War. Another world, but sometimes enjoying other worlds helps life today all the best