Christmas in the Brazier household always starts with Jeff taking his sons Freddie and Bobby to visit their mum’s grave.
Their mother was Jade Goody, the reality TV star who died of cervical cancer in 2009. She was just 27, the boys were five and six.
Jeff, now 37, has brought them up on his own, shielded them from the media spotlight and figured out how to handle the big showpieces of family life when there is an empty chair.
He said: “Christmas is the one day of the year when it’s most obvious someone’s missing. It had to become less about the presents.”
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For the first couple of years after Jade died, Jeff went overboard with toys. It did not make for a enjoyable day.
He said: “They have everything they could every ask for, yet
they’re still sitting there upset and arguing. Because they’re angry and frustrated.”
Then he found a way to include Jade in the day.
Jeff added to the Daily Record: “I take them to the cemetery first thing in the morning. Then we have dealt with this, we go home and can enjoy the day.”
The boys each take something made, a card they’ve written and some flowers for the grave.
“They have paid respect to their mum and they don’t feel guilty about enjoying the day at home.”
Jeff and Jade split three years before her death. He was also a product of reality TV, appearing on Shipwrecked, The Farm and other shows.
But despite making his living in front of a camera, his instinct was to shield the boys from publicity.
He said: “The first thing I did eight years ago was get a privacy ban. That meant there could be no photos of them in any publication, so they could have as normal a childhood as I could give them.
“They had the space they needed to grieve as well as they could. As a result they’re very normal kids.”
Now they are 12 and 13, he is ready to take the brakes off. They are on social media and have started wondering what they might do when they grow up.
Jeff said: “I get nervous when they start talking about going on Big Brother like their mum. I try to steer them well out of that.
“I explain that their mum and I were both products of reality TV, we were lucky, it was a time when there was a career path to be had.”