This blog post contains no advice, offers or ‘value’
(a key concept in the blog guru’s toolkit )
…merely a wish that your Christmas is all that you hope it to be.
Feel free to stop reading there if you’re busy (and, aren’t we all?). I’d intended to post a couple of paragraphs but, like Topsy, it ‘just growed’ and – to paraphrase Blaise Pascal – I haven’t time to make it shorter.
Like everyone else, I’m busy with other things than writing at the moment – not that I’m doing Christmas shopping or wrapping presents. This year, Christmas hasn’t been, so much, cancelled as downgraded.
Nevertheless, its presence colours December – in the songs our choral group will perform at a care home tomorrow; at the Christmas party in a local hall the following afternoon; in the shops that will tempt me to buy too many nibbles to see us through our fairy-lit evenings.
My sister’s family buy presents only for her grandchildren and not for the adults. I’ve been trying for some years to sell this idea to my adult children, but have met resistance. Now the prime objecter has children of her own and may begin to understand the magic that gets diluted by a scramble to wrap up something for every person – whether they want it or not.
Instead of buying presents I have, in recent years, devised treasure hunts similar to those I organised when they were children. For these, I compose rhyming clues and hide ‘treasure’ at various stages for them to choose from. I gather my treasure over the year, from sales, offers, charity shops – even, occasionally, on Christmas shopping trips.
One major advantage is that I don’t have to wrap any of it up. Another is that they get to choose what they want (although, invariably, everything has gone by the end). First clues are staggered so that each group will have had first choice at one or other of the treasure stations. Right now, I don’t have the mental energy to set it all up.
This year, the collection of ‘treasure’ I amassed in the first half of the year will do service as prizes for board games when the family come around. This year I am carer for my husband who is recovering from a coronary triple bypass. I’ve resorted to my mother’s annual ploy of sending money to my children and nieces, asking them to buy something for their progeny and wrap it as if from me – I’ve always been a lousy present-wrapper, anyway.
This year, I’ve wrapped only one gift – for our neighbour’s daughter. I’m introducing her to Terry Pratchett. My own grandchildren are a tad young for the Master, but their turn will come (or they’ll just read mine).
Much of this year has passed in diagnosis and referrals and in watching my husband slowly grind to a halt, struggling for breath and drained of all energy. When his first Friday operation date was cancelled on the Thursday afternoon, he was devastated.
That was a bad weekend. The youngest of our dogs died unexpectedly on the Sunday evening.
I’m sure we were both waiting for a third blow to strike, although neither of us gave voice to the superstition that misfortunes come in threes.
Three weeks later, he was admitted for his operation: twenty-one days weaker, more breathless and exhausted.
It’s a slow climb back from a major operation with no energy for the ascent.
He is a frustrating patient: not demanding, just uncooperative. No matter the hospital handouts stressing the benefits of gentle exercise, healthy eating, adequate hydration… Mañana.
I suggested a preventative measure to shield him from catching my cold.
‘No, I won’t catch it.’
The resulting cold did nothing to alleviate his post-operative cough. Apparently, sneezing hurt.
I’ve made it a lifetime rule never to say ‘I told you so’, but he tries my resolve sometimes.
We will travel to the London suburbs for the festive week, but he isn’t allowed to drive yet.
An experienced and highly qualified driver doesn’t make a happy passenger.
Although he won’t criticise, I will be aware of his teeth clenching and his foot pressing an invisible brake for the entire journey.
I wonder if he’d notice a couple of sleeping tablets slipped into his morning medication?