After my brother died, we barely celebrated Christmas. Then I fell in love and a switch turned on

Fifteen years after losing David, I was in Liverpool, appearing in pantomime. The city was glittering, romance was in the air, and I suddenly felt ready for the festivities

I’ve always had a fairly complicated relationship with Christmas. My father left when I was two. He always promised we’d spend Christmas together, but he never came. There were fun and loving Christmases with my mum and brother, David. We had very little money, but my mother would manage to fill pillowcases with presents, and we’d have a tin of Quality Street and a little tree. My mother would cook a roast dinner and we’d watch movies together.

Christmases with Corky Ballas, my second husband and dance partner, and his family were a big deal – the tree, opening gifts, playing games and singing songs. Those were quite thrilling Christmases, but not what I was used to. Later, when I had our son Mark, and Corky and I were working as professional dancers and competing, we missed about five Christmases because we were away for months at a time. Mark would stay with my mother, and I felt huge guilt about it. As Mark got older, I realised that you can’t replace that time with a child – the time when Christmas is at its most magical. They’re times I’ll never get back and I regret that.

Continue reading…