Lego memories and building a Christmas tradition.
We love Lego in the Taylor family! I know there are millions of Lego fans around the world, but three years ago this Christmas, in the face of tragedy, those little colourful bricks took on a special significance for our family.
Me and Lego.
If you’ve been following my blog, it won’t surprise you to learn I was one of those creative kids who loved to build and make things. Consequently, I was a huge fan of Lego. However, as with many other things people take for granted now, in the 1970s/80s, the choice of Lego was much more limited! We didn’t have the luxury of Lego ranges like: Friends, Technic, City and Lego collections linked to films, books and TV shows like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Marvel Superheroes.
I vividly remember having ‘space’ Lego. I loved the moon buggies with the large wheels and the figures with their little space helmets. I also recall asking for a ‘highstreet’ Lego set one Christmas, complete with shops and cars. Imagine my disappointment when I woke up on Christmas morning to find my mum had already built it for me! Unbelievable! How could she?! Even worse, she was reluctant to let me take it apart so I could enjoy the building experience for myself. Seriously, I know Lego is fun to play with once it’s finished but the best bit is building it in the first place. Shieshk! (Mum, I know you read my blog. For the record, I forgive you, and the therapy sessions have been very helpful 😉 )
Three years ago.
Three years ago, Mr T decided it would be a lovely idea to buy the newly released Lego Volkswagen T1 Camper van for the four of us to build at Christmas. We were excited about the idea of having a family project.
It was nice to have something to look forward to as it had been a tough few months. My dad was recovering from a serious fall which left him with a spiral fracture of the femur and pins in his leg. My mother-in-Law was seriously ill in hospital. Because of this, we weren’t sure who we should visit on Christmas day. In the end, we decided to go to the North-East and see my family, planning to head back to Derbyshire to see Richard’s family and visit his mum in hospital for Boxing Day evening.
That Boxing Day, whilst we were still up in the North-East, my father-in-Law, John, had a massive heart attack whilst out on his bike with Richard’s nephews (aged 11 and 18) and died on the way to hospital.
Family, Friends, Faith.
As those who’ve lost loved ones can attest, the first few days are heavy with grief as you try and come to terms with what has happened. In the case of our family, John’s sudden death was such a shock because he (Grandad Tractor) was the healthy one. It was Richard’s mum and my dad who were poorly. He was ‘fit’ as a fiddle, or so we thought.
It broke my heart when Richard had to sit down with our girls and tell them Grandad was dead when mum brought them back to Nottingham a few days later. But it was the love of our girls, our nephews, family, friends and faith that helped us through those painful first days. We felt so blessed to be part of such a loving and supportive family who cared so deeply for each other. Over the years we’ve shared in every joy and every sorrow and three years ago, their love held us up through that difficult time.
Just look at the note Emily gave to Richard when she saw how upset he was the day after his dad’s death.
A few days after John died, we visited Richard’s sister’s and her family for the day. It was a chance for the girls to spend time with their cousins who had been worried about how they were taking the news.
Everything was still so raw and we hadn’t really felt in the mood for Christmas festivities. The cards were taken down early and decorations were put away. The kids were quiet and subdued but drew strength from being together.
Richard decided to bring the Lego VW Campervan so our girls could build it with his nephews. After our family meal, he got it out and gave it to them.
They sat around the dining room table and quietly began to unpack the packets of Lego and the instruction books to begin the building project as we watched from our spot on the sofas.
Slowly but surely, as our kids began to work on their building project, the atmosphere began to change. The sombre silence was broken from time to time with a question, query or remark from one of them. Little by little, the conversation picked up, the happy chatter and banter beginning to return as they helped one another with the instructions or passed each other pieces. They worked as a team, all with their different roles of sorting, reading and building.
I’m choking up just thinking about it now. I can remember how beautiful it was to watch our children, their happy world turned upside down by the death of their beloved grandad, began to laugh and chat again. That afternoon, little by little, piece by piece, a beautiful VW campervan emerged from a pile of assorted bricks. Remarkably, little by little, joy emerged from the tangled emotions of grief.
In the days following John’s death, it was our faith, family and friends kept us going.
I never would have imagined that for us, especially our children, Lego would be therapy too. It was a soothing balm to minister to the heavy hearts of a family who would go into the New Year with a vital, irreplacable piece missing.
Our Christmas Tradition.
We miss John terribly and every year when Boxing Day comes around again we are reminded how much. However, we have so many good memories to cherish and we also believe we will see him again one day.
Three years ago, in the midst of a tragedy, our Christmas Lego building tradition began. It started with four children sitting around a dinner table building a Lego VW Campervan. Every year since, we’ve chosen another Lego kit to build together as a family, including the Mini Cooper and Wall-E, which are displayed in our home.
Our nephews share our tradition too. They built a Lego Creator Pet Shop a few years ago followed by the more ambitious Sydney Opera House, (which the eldest bought with money from his first job), the year after that.
This year the tradition continues, only things are a little bit different. That’s because after hearing about our Lego building story, Lego kindly sent us our next Christmas project as a gift, the Lego Technic Volvo EW160E #42053.
Thank you, Lego Group. We look forward to Christmas with thankful hearts for our faith, family and friends and for the next chapter in our Lego building story.
(I’ll be back in the New Year to tell you all about our Volvo EW160E building project).
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This is a collaborative post.