Thinking about Christmases past, there’s one journey I’m not sorry we don’t have to make. I still miss our life in England occasionally but I’ll never miss that drive to the ferry in the winter months, that trip across the sea where I was always seasick and the early morning drive on frosty roads to home.
We spent some Christmases on our own in the UK, the one that really stays in my memory was our first Christmas in 56 Park Street in 1999. We had moved into a house that needed significant overhauling and renovation and more or less camped in it for 4 months. We’d just got the rest of the furniture out of storage, the living room had a new floor, the fireplace was in, we had a couple of comfy armchairs and half the kitchen was in! We had a sink, a dishwasher, a cooker, some cupboards were in and the worktop along the left side. I was adamant, I was taking 4 days off over Christmas, we were going to go for walks in the New Forest, Brian would cook dinner, I would curl up in the armchair in front of the fire, watch TV and catch up on some reading. The fact I am married to a workaholic was confirmed on St Stephen’s Day when I was curled up in my armchair reading a book and listening to music and Brian took himself off to the kitchen to put together some kitchen cupboards!
My parents had my sister’s godparents up for many years on Christmas Day and also two neighbours. John and Kate O’Neill were brother and sister, they had the type of open house that always welcomed people in, no matter what time of day or night – there would always be a smile, a welcome, an offer of a drink and a good chat but Christmas Day was a day that others spent with their families and they found it lonely. They started coming up before I was born and only stopped a year or so before John’s death. Kate would come in laden with boxes of sweets and chocolate biscuits and she always loved receiving clothes as her Christmas gift, saying that she always looked forward to our gifts most of all. John died 8 years ago and Kate died this year. When I was naming my daughter Kate, I hoped that she would inherit some of Kate O’Neill’s good humour and generosity.
Our Christmases now are very much lazy days, Brian double fodders on Christmas Eve so it’s about 2 hours work on the farm on the day itself. We usually go to church, followed by dinner, and an afternoon of playing with whatever Santa brings, playing cards and games like Scrabble. Our children are so like us – they love ‘relaxing’ days, spending time on their own, uninterrupted by others. I suggested to them earlier that we drive into town for a stroll around and they looked at me as though I were mad, happy enough to play football outside, read, watch TV and veg!
We’re wallpapering the living room at the moment, 1.5 walls are done and the rest should be finished by the end of the week. I also need to find the radiator cover I bought about 2 years ago and hope it fits the living room radiator – will add a finishing touch to that wall.
Other memories of past Christmases include heading into Next sale at 6 or 7 am on 27th or 28th December, heading home with full bags to decide what I was going to keep and what I’d return and how much I had saved. I don’t like the way sales now start on St Stephen’s Day, way too early! I’m too old and like my bed too much now to get up really early for those 5am sales!
Merry Christmas! 2013 will be a busy year, apparently there’s over 100 cows and heifers due to calve in the first 3 weeks of February.