The Coming of Christmas

woody2We made it home.

The pilot remembered about the flaps, the run way was cleared of ice.   We looked out onto a world of white.  Snow. Snow. Snow. The colours of autumn had gone.  Vanished beneath millions of tiny snowflakes.  The palms and pool had become a distant memory.  Only the sun tan and laundry in the cases remained, along with an echo of Spanish priests and the sounds of the ocean.

At home, the fridge was empty and the cupboards bare. The trains ran a minimalist service and commuters froze on bitter platforms.   Pavements were snow coated ice ways, roads single track, with snow bergs at junctions.  Pushed there by the snow ploughs.  Fracture clinics were on red alert and staff leave cancelled.

While swathes of the country took ice days, the thespian knew the show had to go on.  Even in the snow.  She trudged for a week.  She walked, she froze, she wept. Waited for too many cancelled trains.  Freezing fingers, frozen feet. Late nights and early mornings.

And then she wrote a note and left it in the kitchen.

‘silently closing her bedroom door.  Leaving the note she hoped would say more.  She goes down to the kitchen……. (Beatles – She’s leaving home) 

The note was brief.

Can’t take this snow.  I’m leaving home.  X

Ps.  I’ll leave on Sunday x

She slammed the door and trudged off to catch another train.

The swindle had been confined to barracks.  Their banter and balls grounded as the country was gripped in its own mini ice age.  The green keepers stayed at home as club secretaries put out the Closed Sign.  Only the flag sticks poked out from the snow on silent greens.

The Chef put the food back in the freezer as lunches were cancelled. The Membership secretary took the phone off the hook and caught up with paper work.  Big Rich watched the golf on the telly and Sid had his weekly lesson cancelled.  Gus parked his car away from a hill and made it into work each day.  Pancake read another book and The Sheriff pined for the fairways and the banter. Ruggy planned her Christmas menus and the Undertaker knew he would be in for a busy spell before skiing.

The sun block was put away with the shades and un posted post cards. The washing machine went into overdrive, laundry baskets overflowed. The tan was moisturised and the bed remained as lumpy and unforgiving as ever.

The Golf Police had a busy diary.

“Out to lunch” tomorrow he said. The first of many.

It was a long lunch.

In the time it took to eat lunch, the tree was taken down from the loft, assembled and decorated with gold and red baubles, twinkly lights and the little fairy.  Wreaths were hung, banisters decked and the Advent Calendar filled with chocolate coins.

“What do you think of the tree?” said Daughter No. One.

“Pretty.  But where is the  gold painted pasta?”

“You can put all that stuff on the other tree” said the Fashion Police.

I decorated the other tree. The tree of memories with its battered robin and painted pasta.  The chipped baubles and faded fairy.  Coloured twinkly lights.  A tree of childhood and Christmas Past.

Fifty Christmas cards had been written before the phone rang.

“I’m on a train”.

Alcohol and snow bergs do not make for good travelling companions.  He made it home.  His buddy fell in the ice.  Hospital. Pain. Fracture.

“Anything left to eat?”

I carried on writing the cards.

There had been a culling of names. An economy of words.  No more ‘let’s meet up for lunch’.  There had been no lunch for ten – fifteen years.  It just became ‘Merry Christmas’. Saved on ink and time.

No self congratulatory letters of family achievements.  Not like the one received last year.

Dear All,

You will know by now that Annabelle got her four ‘A’ stars and now has a place at Oxford to study history.  Amazing how well she has done what with being a prem baby and all that.  But we put it down to listening to all that classical music in the womb (Mozart) and the breast milk, despite the mastitis.  Susie still maintains she could not have managed without the National Childbirth Trust and all her buddies…. 

 Not be outdone, Annabelle’s  brother has just finished his first year studying pure maths and is on target for a First.  Remember how he could do the rubic cube when he was four and a quarter….   How Sebastian fits all his study in with his rugby, cricket and rowing we just don’t know…. and of course he still does his charity work and will be helping to build a school in Africa when he finishes his trekking in the summer.

The twins are doing well at their Prep school and are on course to pass Common Entrance.  Just as well we put them down for Eton when they were a week old!! 

 Did we mention that Annabelle passed her Grade Eight for cello and has been asked to sing the lead solo soprano at the Leavers’ Ball? ….

We have just returned from two weeks in Marrakesh. Time to relax and unwind before the relatives all descend for the festive jollies.  They always seem to come to us, what with the big house.  Susie never minds and everyone mucks in with the mince pies and roasted chestnuts.

 Can’t wait for the New Year when we are off skiing. The twins are very competitive on the black runs.    Sebastian will be taking his snow board. You should see him on those slopes. Fearless.

Well this wraps things up this end. Do keep in touch.

 Regards to all xx

I thought of suitable reply.  Ironic. Sardonic.

Dear Perfect Family,

Well another year down the line and you seem to have reached all your targets and goals.

Our family is well.  The rehab sessions are going well.  Most of the addictions have been knocked on the head.  The anorexia is just a distant memory and the dog is now having sessions with a Pet Psychologist about its random howling and stealing food from the fridge.  We have learnt to show we are the master and head of the pack.  It has not been easy but we are persevering as a family. 

We haven’t managed a holiday this year, what with the recession and redundancy.  Shelf stacking in the supermarket gets us through the bad times and  maybe next year we can have a long weekend somewhere cheap.

We decided not to offer to build a school in Africa.   And thanks for the goat  you sent last year.  We have quite a little herd now.  Along with the toilet  you sent the previous year. 

Well must put on another jumper and throw another log on the fire.  Anything to keep the carbon footprint small….

Spin pass back to you and your perfect world.

Yours, etc… 

 I stacked the cards neatly in piles.  In alphabetical order.  Ready for the post box.   

I wrote one last note, left it on the kitchen table and turned out all the lights.

Dear Golf Police,

There is no easy way to tell you this but there is something I need to share with you.  I have tried not to say anything.  Tried to keep this to myself.  But it needs to come out in the open.  It can’t remain the snow berg that everyone drives round.  There is something you need to know.

Think of a star in the East and a baby in a manager.  Think of Gold Frankincense and Myrrh.  Think of Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior.  Think of carols and Kings. Mince pies and pudding. Crackers, baubles and lights.  Holly and ivy.  Presents and cards. Scrooge. Tiny Tim and the Coming of the Magi.   Think of a word – nine letters. Think of the date.

Yours,

The Goodwill Fairy x

PS The thing in the corner is a Tree.  And the reason you found it hard to get upstairs was because of the holly and lights wrapped round the banisters.

PPS The List pinned to this note is my Christmas List.  It’s the same list as last year.  xx

The Golf Police woke with a hangover.  Skipped breakfast, missed the note and headed off to the Office.

I wrote the final card, cleared the drive of snow and compacted ice and walked to the shop for bread, milk and wrapping paper.   Hung up the washing and put the cases in the loft.

The boiler packed up and winter came into the house.

The Golf Police came home early, skipped dinner and went to bed.  I binned the note. With the Christmas list.

The Golf Police noticed the tree in the morning.

“Remind me when Christmas is again?” he said

And just as the note said, the thespian left home, silently closing her bedroom door.