Friday, 18 November 2011
For the first time in about forty years I will not be 'doing' Christmas. My son and daughter-in-law will be taking over, and I hand on the responsibility with a mixture of feelings, one of which is relief.
It will be strange not to be in charge of the sprouts.....and the parsnips, and the roast potatoes, stuffing, brandy butter and turkey. Not to have control of the quantities, the timing, the furniture moving, the bed-making. Not to do what I always do, which is to plan meticulously for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and to forget that a range of people will need feeding for the days before and after the Main Event.
What this freedom does is give me time to think about what I really want to give to those I love, and rather to my surprise I find I want to give things that are personal and have real importance to me. Things that I have hoarded over many years. Things that I have been rather possessive about.
Is this what is called 'growing old'? Or even 'passing on'?
If so, I do it with the deepest sort of pleasure.
I have given a lot this year, some of it my late husband's, and now most of it my own. Significant books and jewellery, tools and picnic sets. It has given me a warm glow to find a new home for some rather esoteric choral music, and to discover a shared interest. Giving is not just for Christmas, but the time of year creates an important focus.
The photograph above shows a silver and jade bracelet, and will be a gift with a huge history. It belonged to my Aunt, when she and my Uncle and my infant cousin were living in Malaya during the Second World War. They had to flee from Penang to Singapore to escape the Japanese invasion, taking only a handful of belongings. My aunt was wearing the bracelet, and it travelled with her to the docks at Singapore, where she and her little son managed to get on to a ship. They did not know where the ship was going, but it happened to be Tasmania. My Uncle did not travel with them. He spent the rest of the War in Changi jail.
The bracelet eventually travelled back to England, my Uncle returning years later, blinded through malnutrition and unable to work ever again or even to speak about what had happened to him during those years. He was in his early forties.
Soon the bracelet will be returning to the Far East, and actually to Japan. It will go in happiness and peace, I'm sure, and I need to think that it will make a most positive ending to a sad and painful story. It is part of my family history, but there is no one else to tell it now.
I must say no more. She doesn't know she's getting it yet.
Saturday, 5 November 2011
So here I am on a sunny Saturday afternoon, enjoying the sweeping and collection of these golden leaves, when the phone rings. It's that helpful man from India, for the second time this week, telling me that my computer has many faults and that he, and he alone, will be able to fix them for me. Just before I disconnect him I tell him that I have no computer, a statement which fellow-bloggers may realise is a lie.
I am working steadily on the rockery with the secatures when the phone rings again. This time a joyful voice tells me I have won a free, all-expenses paid holiday in Florida. I don't say a thing about Florida. I just switch off.
I feel needed, loved, wanted. So many people want to give me things, do things for me, improve my house, plan my funeral, spice up my sex life, lag my pipes, give me free pizzas.
They telephone me, e-mail me, push messages through the front door.
I'm not even going to mention that Doctor/Lawyer/Lord in Nigeria who wants to give me huge amounts of money if I help him by giving him my banking details. I suspect he is not being faithful to me. I know he's e-mailing quite a few of my friends and acquaintances as well.
Ditto the Spanish Lottery, which I keep winning even though I never buy a ticket. They want to send me my winnings, but need my Bank details, of course. However, we're talking euros here, so I'm uneasy.
People really want to help me. Banks that I have no connection with are keen for me to confirm my contact details because - oh no! there have been suspicious activities on my non-existant accounts. Some of these non-existant accounts have now blocked me, and need me to reauthorise things. It becomes surreal.
Then there is the viagara - tons of the stuff swilling about, waiting to be picked up for absolute bargain prices, and the Rolex replicas, undetectable from the real thing, which I must order now if I'm to receive them in time for Christmas.
Through the door the offers pour in for double glazing (a glance at the house will show that it's already double glazed), for special offers on food and drink, from people who want to clean the place, resurface the drive, remove trees and hedges.
This morning even Waitrose, fairly dignified Waitrose, is offering me £5 if I'll go back to shopping with them after they have been closed for a week (but, to be fair, I will have to spend £50 first).
I feel valued and cherished, but I have more important things to do. I return to my own trees and hedges, unplugging phones as I go.
Out there I discover that my very local badgers have started a new latrine area, right in the middle of one of my better flower beds. Even they need me, want to be closer.......
For proper serious information on dealing with spam and computer-related problems, see the very helpful advice by 'Mouse'