Wednesday, 27 August 2008

I'm Hoping To Have A Very White Christmas

I know it's not September yet, but I am already looking forward to Christmas. For someone who lives on their own this is a very strange thing to say. In the past, except for a couple of occasions (once when I was on duty and another occasion, before I was married, when my oldest friend and I went to stay with her sister and brother-in-law who were serving in Malta ) my husband and I always spent Christmas with my parents. When my husband died I stopped enjoying Christmas; although I still went and spent the period with my parents, I felt very lonely, and it was not a happy time. My mother died in October 2003 so Christmas that year was a quiet occasion with just my father and I. Then a few days before Christmas 2005, my father died very suddenly. When I got back from the hospital (I had gone with him in the ambulance) I had to face phoning all the family and friends to let them know what had happened, but one of the things that was weighing on my mind was how was I going to face Christmas on my own. Fortunately one of my friends phoned me later in the day and said that I should go and spend Christmas with them (my husband and I are god-parents to both their children) so that I wouldn't be on my own. I spent Christmas 2006 with them too, and we had a wonderful time. God-daughter and her fiancé were there and we had a truly spectacular dinner and lots of presents, and truth to tell probably a bit too much to drink. But we enjoyed ourselves.

Last Christmas, I decided to bite the bullet and stay on my own. It's just as well I did because the week before Christmas I started to go down with a cold. I had my usual monthly appointment with my GP and he commented that I didn't sound too well and I told him it was a combination of being the anniversary of my father's death, the thought of Christmas on my own and the fact that the cold I had seemed to be getting worse and going to my chest. He checked me over and found that my sinuses were blocked and it sounded as though I might be developing bronchitis. Because it was so near Christmas, and I have a history of some quite severe chest infections since my husband died, he decided that I ought to have some antibiotics to take just in case the worst happened. It did, on Christmas Eve. I found that I could hardly breathe, if I coughed it felt as though my chest would explode and I felt like death warmed up. Christmas was spent wrapped up in bed, and Christmas dinner was a chicken curry warmed up in the microwave.

This year I am going to stay with friends in Canada. I had hoped to go to see them in June, but because I had recently started psychotherapy it was thought that it would not be a good idea to go at that time. I told them that I would be over later in the year and they were happy with that. Then a couple of weeks ago I was asked if I would like to go for Christmas, and I said yes.

I should explain that the person I go to stay with is someone who did her nursing training with my mother, and was bridesmaid at my parents' wedding. A couple of years after I was born she went to work in Canada and ended up marrying a Canadian widower with four children. They then had another four children, so it is a large family. My mother and her friend corresponded regularly through the years and my parents often went out to Canada to stay with them. Once the younger children had grown up, Canadian friends came over to England for holidays with my parents. Then friend's husband died and she came over more regularly and on one visit, the year my parents celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, she came over to England, and while she was over came for a couple of weeks in Corfu with us. Since my mother died I have been to stay with her three times, once when my father was also staying there, and twice since he has died. She is like a mother to me, and often talks of the things that they got up to when they were doing their training. Her youngest daughter, who is about 10 years younger than me, says that I feel more like a sister to her than her own sisters do even though we see each other so rarely; however, we do correspond regularly by email. All of her children treat me as one of the family so it as though I have a lot of brothers and sisters who live far away.

This evening it was my turn to phone (we usually speak each week) and we were talking about the weather (it's been a wet summer in the Toronto area too), how the humming birds seemed to feeding ready for their flight south for the winter, and how the leaves on the trees were changing colour early this year (the maples are truly spectacular when they change colour). Then the subject turned to Christmas and the hope that it would be a white one, like last year, and how youngest daughter was really excited at the thought of me being there for Christmas and how she was already planning things that we would do together.

A white Christmas at home is something that I have to think really hard to remember, so the thought of Christmas with snow maybe a couple of feet deep is like imagining scenes from a Christmas card. I'm going to have to get some clothes to keep me warm, but I don't expect to have too much of a problem with the cold because when I was in the RAF, one of my postings was to a squadron that regularly deployed to a base north of the Arctic Circle, so I have experienced temperatures of -35 degrees Celsius and lived to tell the tale. If you go out in that temperature without a scarf to cover your nose, when you breathe in you can feel all the moisture and the hairs in your nose instantly freeze. A truly bizarre feeling the first time it happens.

So there it is. After years of hating Christmas, I am looking forward to it again. I know that I will undoubtedly think of the people that I wish could be there, but I will have my other family around me, and lots of new experiences too I expect.


Elaine said...

It was wonderful to see such a positive post from you. I rather envy you your White Christmas (as long as it does not include all the cast of the film!)

Happy clothes shopping!

alhi said...

I guess it's all about creating new, happy memories, not to replace the old ones but to remember them alongside each other. It all sounds wonderful: a winter wonderland.

Youngest of Eight said...

Oh, how I can't wait for you to arrive a person who I can talk to and who really and truly won't secretly judge. Miss you....