Tealights glow among the battery operated candles and solar powered fairy lights. The cards, despite MasterB’s best efforts, are currently upright. There’s a faint smell of beeswax polish in the air from my efforts with duster and vacuum cleaner earlier today. The silver and brass is shined and clean. A pint size Christmas tree sits on the table with the new bauble of MasterB in front of it. There are bowls of fruit, walnuts and chocolates. A few wrapped presents sit grouped together. One is a bottle, another I am pretty confident is a book, as may be one of the others. I am hoping the package from Barcelona is turrón, and then there’s one of those fancy bags with packages inside I have resisted looking at. One card turned out to be gift voucher for M&S, and a good bottle of wine came unwrapped and ready for Christmas lunch courtesy of Octavia before she set off to spend Christmas in South Africa.
It all feels festive and relaxed. All my immediate neighbours have departed. This is the one time of year when I know I can turn up the stereo without disturbing anyone. Bliss. Aunt sounded happy when I called. Linda was visiting with her family, so we didn’t talk for long. I’ll call her tomorrow too before I head out for drinks with neighbours.
On Sunday we went to the Nine lessons and carols at St Bartholomew the Great which has been in fixture in my personal Christmas rituals for many years now. There have been drinks with neighbours, meals, a party. My liver will be glad when it’s all over.
I’ve reached the stage where I don’t get or give many presents. I always hope for good soaps with the leaping bunny symbol to let me know my pleasure doesn’t come at the expense of some poor beast having it rubbed into its eyes first. Having a small and full flat, the best presents are the ones I can consume; food and drink; flowers; soap; books; writing paper. Time was I always got writing paper for Christmas from someone. Now with email all conquering, it’s an old fashioned gift, but I still prefer to send my thank-yous by snailmail.
I’ve got a jigsaw I was given earlier in the year, and I’m really hoping to get the time to spread it out on the floor and lose hours concentrating on where each piece goes. Cat was deadly with jigsaws. He would scatter pieces, lie in the middle and stop me from working on it, pick with his claws at bits I had already joined together and bat others under the sofa, or disappear them entirely. So I shall probably wait until MasterB is out or asleep. It’ll be a bit of a homage to my father. He and I always used to do a jigsaw together over Christmas while Mother cooked and baked.
This time last year Aunt’s cancer was undiagnosed, Aunt Kath was still alive, the horrors of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan still to come. The refugee crisis will stay with us into 2016, but I hope that more compassion and sympathy for their plight will improve a miserable situation. Never in my lifetime have the words of the carols calling for peace on earth seemed more urgent. Perhaps this year we’ll listen to them and act on them.