Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, 10am and I am tracking Santa with NORAD. Mr M has gone out to do a few last minute errands, like go to the market for the special bacon we like and then to COSTCO for coffee and mushrooms.

I am on my own and as much as I love my husband I do still need some time to myself. I love my home when it is quiet. One of the reasons we bought this house was the atmosphere it has. The first time we came in through the front door it felt peaceful. We live on a main road into the city centre so there is traffic most of the day, unless it is snowing, but even before we had double glazing the house is peaceful. It's not just us that feel it. All the friends who have come to visit tell us that it is such a relaxed house, so peaceful. We like that.

This kind of set me thinking about other places I have lived and whether they were peaceful too, and I think there was only one other place that has the same feeling and that was the Mill. It also set me thinking about other Christmas Eves and wondering why this one feels so different.

Perhaps because it is the first one where I really feel I don't have to worry about my children. They are all finally where they want to be. Each one has said things this year that show they are making long term plans, something they haven't really done before. Perhaps it's just because I have a genuine Italian Pannetonne in my pantry and I intend eating it. Perhaps it's because this year Mr M and I have kind of decided that we don't need to give presents to each other to show how much we care, that it is sufficient for us to sit together on the sofa and hold hands while we talk. We know how much we care for each other and there isn't a gift on this earth that he could give me that would get anywhere near expressing how much I am loved. We tend to buy things we need when we need them so, this year we are content.

You see, that's it! I have just realised as I am writing that the difference is contentment. I am content, Mr M is content, we don't need anything else to make Christmas complete.

So I wish everyone who reads this a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I could write it in Welsh but that would just be showing off as I don't speak the language even though I am Welsh

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas Club story 4

My first husband left us in the September. We were all living with my parents in an old water Mill but even the idyllic surroundings couldn't prevent the marriage from falling apart. Any way he had packed his bags and after waiting for the children to come home from school he announced "Your mother has something to tell you" and left.
We had a roof over our heads and my mother would not let us go short of food but it was still going to be a Christmas without their dad and the youngest was already convinced that it was all his fault and if he had been a good boy daddy would still be with us. In November after having no contact I was summoned to court so that he could demand access. I don't have to say that I told the court that he could see the children whenever he wanted to, he could have them every weekend if they wanted to go and he could ring them every night as long as it was before they went to bed. He was setting me up you see because then he demanded that they go to him for Christmas. I said yes IF THEY WANT TO. and suggested that there should be a witness present when they were asked, just to make sure that I didn't unfairly influence them.
The court appointed a Guardian ad Litem to oversee this most difficult situation and a date was arranged. The day arrived and we went to the offices where he was to ask them to go and stay with him - I am sure that he had been promising them all sorts of things during his saturdays with them - He asked them if they would like to go and stay with him for Christmas and before the youngest could say anything my daughter asked "Where will we sleep?" "At Nanny and Bampi's house, with me" he replied. "How long do we have to stay?" she asked. "You'll come on Christmas Eve and stay until Boxing day" "Oh, no," she said, sounding quite relieved "We can't, we have to be in church for Choir on Christmas Eve and on Boxing Day we go to the Village hall for the party." She looked thoughtfully at her father and I suddenly realised that she had planned all this "Dad, why don't you just bring our presents to the mill on Christmas morning and then we can see you and we can still have our dinner with Granddad and Granny." The boys nodded their heads in agreement. The G.a.L was satisfied so that's what happened.
My father did make the children invite their father to eat Christmas dinner with us but he refused. "It's alright," he said, "I have my sandwiches."
My daughter refers to this as her father's martyrdom period and often reminds us all that you can't be a martyr without an audience.
I owe that Christmas to a 12 year old girl who knew how to manipulate her father - and I occasionally remind her of it. She insists that she didn't plan it at all and then she always smiles that smile - G*D! I love my daughter!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Christmas Club3

When my children were small we (my now ex husband, me and the three children) lived with them in an old water mill. It was three miles outside the village, nestled into a dip in the landscape so no views just the sound of the countryside. My daughter was six so that makes the boys four and three. She was a bit of an actor and was always making up shows and plays for us. He christmas production involved both her brothers - this was not a wise move as they giggled a lot and forgot their lines.
The plot was long and complicated and had the good and bad fairies - both played by the author - fighting for dominance over the elves (the boys, see I said it was not a wise thing) The performance began after we had all partaken of a pretty darned marvellous Christmas Dinner. The audience was me, my Mum and Dad, My Dad's sister Muriel, a Siamese cat called Penny who belonged to Aunty Mu and joined in with everything. The ex was "too busy" and took himself off to the kitchen where he could sup from his secret booze store (he hated that mum and dad didn't drink so didn't buy so anything he wanted to drink he had to get with his own money not theirs. Where was I? oh yes!
The audience were arranged by the director and told that they would be expected to join in. The show began and pretty soon one of the elves had been stolen from toyland by the bad fairy and the good fairy had to rescue him. The bad fairy was chasing the good fairy - this had to be seen to be believed as the director was playing both parts and at some point in the chase the Good fairy gave THE MAGIC RING to my Dad and asked him to "Keep this safe, kind man, I 'seech you"
I know, six years old and she had words like beseech in her vocabulary, spending so much time with her granny was obviously a good thing. Back to the plot.
Dad took the MAGIC RING and with sleight of hand appeared to swallow it. I did say that it was after a good lunch didn't I? and even though we never drank much my dad did like a glass of wine with his Christmas dinner. The good fairy was horrified "Oh Grandad," she wailed, "You've spoilt it now!
"Bernard!" said my Mum, "Behave yourself! " and then a little voice from the corner of the dining room (the bad fairy's domain) said
"I'll never get out of Toyland now!"
with all the sad resignation that a four year old can put into such a statement. The result was absolute hysteria. My Dad roared with laughter and if he laughed then everyone else just had to follow suit because he had an infectious laugh. My Mum hugged the good/bad fairy. the tiny elf that didn't get stolen joined in without the faintest idea what was funny (which made me laugh even more) Aunty Mu was wiping her eyes with her table napkin and the cat hid behind the door and peered, wide-eyed around the edge at all her humans who had gone mad.
We never did see the end of that play but it is one of the first things that is talked about when my children do the Do-you-remember-that-Christmas-when thing.
My youngest granddaughter will be six in February and she is just like her mother, she throws words like beseech and vulgarity into the conversation and they are always in context. We have a notebook where we write all the things she says so that we can always remember exactly what she says and one day I will put them together into an album for her.
Oh, and we never saw the MAGIC RING again!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Christmas Club Story two

When I was young, and I mean really young, still in single figures so we are looking at the 1950s here, I remember only cold. We lived in an old Nissen hut, the picture was taken when I was about three and you can see the corrugated steel wall of the hut. My Dad bought it right after WW2 and built it on the piece of land he had bought. we moved in there in 1947 just in time for the hardest winter on record. Well the following winters were pretty hard too. The walls of the hut were simply a double skin of steel with a 6inch gap between them. The only source of heat was the fireplace in the living room. The condensation hit the steel and froze so we had icicles hanging from the ceiling. I remember that we shut all the internal doors except the one between my parents bedroom and the living room and we all bundled into my parents feather bed so that we could put ALL the blankets on the top. The water pipes froze but my mother had filled every pot and pan so we could melt enough to have a warming drink.
I remember that the Christmas tree had real candles on it and I had a train-set as my present.
So the next time someone talks about the good old days, remind them that most people in the 1950s were just getting used to indoor plumbing and the majority still regarded a bathroom as a luxury. No-one had central heating unless they were rich and very few had a car. Yes I look back with fondness to a simpler time but would I go back? not on your nelly!