Wot Santa brung me for Christmas…..

A standard ploy of teachers looking for an easy topic for writing used to be to get kids to write about their summer vacation or their Christmas break  and it occurs to me that I am now faced with a similar task. 

So, another Christmas has been and gone and though at one point it seemed like it was going to be a very different affair to recent Christmases, in the end it turned out to be much the same – for me , at least.  It’s been good to have the Princess home and to have my Dad here, but my partner has spent much of her holiday shuttling up and down the motorway to visit her Mum in hospital, so it’s been a very different experience for her.

I’ve quite deliberately avoided dragging her into this blog until now;  without wishing to be cryptic, I do have my reasons, which may become a topic for blogging at some point – but not now and not for some time, I suspect.

I have written before about the slow but inexorable disappearance of a generation of Irish incomers (‘Off to a funeral’, 10 November) and partner’s Mum is another case in point.  She came over from Ireland in 1941, aged 17,  to be a nurse, arriving in Northampton in the middle of an air raid and walking the 4 miles or so out to the hospital where she would spend the rest of her working life. 

She’s a remarkable and admirable woman in many ways but for someone who has always placed such a premium on communication, the loss of her ability to speak  due to a pulmonary embolism is going to be a severe trial.  Medically, she seems to have been stabilised, but whether her spirit will survive this additional curb to her independence (already sorely tried due to purely physical mobility issues) remains to be seen.

So, there have been two Christmases at least for those that live  in this house – one spent hurtling backwards & forwards on the motorway to and from Northampton, the other essentially treading water and organising mealtimes around Northampton visits.  Dealing with elderly relatives is never easy, but doing so over Christmas is surely twice as difficult.

However, I did escape to the pub yesterday to watch one and a half football matches; 45 minutes of Arsenal cruising past Aston Villa and the whole of United struggling to overcome a spirited Hull City.  Football is all I have watched on TV this Christmas, really as the standard  bill of fare has been, to say the least, forgettable.  Even the Princess, denied access to a TV during term-time due to her impoverished student status, has only really waxed lyrical about the final ‘Dr Who’ to feature David Tennant.

And that’s it, really; the snow has melted for now, the Christmas treats are starting to look a bit dog-eared and my thoughts are turning to New Year, an occasion I have traditionally always enjoyed far more than Christmas, probably due to its emphasis on unalloyed hedonism in the company of friends rather than familial obligation.

So, Christmas was OK this year – I enjoyed Christmas Day more than I have for many years and the rest of it has just been a watching brief for me.   Santa brought me a Jacques Tati DVD that I have coveted for some time and an unreleased live Freddie Hubbard CD on Blue Note.  I also got a new dressing gown which is a tad less roomy than it should be,  reminding me that one of my tasks for 2010 is to shed some of my excess padding.

Not me, but it might as well be…..


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