This will be my last post before Christmas.  Can I make it positive?  Well, today is the shortest day so the nights are drawing out from now on …  There, that should cover it.  Now, act normal!

Am I ready for Christmas?  Nope.  I can still see the tree through the glass, out in the garden.  Admittedly, it is, now, de-netted and in its stand but, of course, it is ever so slightly squint!  Nobody has volunteered to foster my palm tree thing so, rather than signing its death warrant and leaving it to the elements, my latest plan is to cut it right back in the hope that it sees fit to grow back in the spring.  Good thinking?  I thought so.

My cards have gone.  Yes, I did use last year’s but who’s to remember?  Well, my mother would have as, in her later years, I discovered that the plethora of cards denoting huge popularity was, actually, derived from her penchant for doubling up.  This year’s, last year’s?  What the hell, put them all out!  She never admitted it, always claiming it was completely unintentional.  She was some character and sorely missed, particularly on Christmas Eve – the real Christmas.  I’m sure I have mentioned before that, when the children were little, we always spent Christmas at Lyndhurst and, to this day, they, both, treasure the memories of those times.  They were magical times and so much of that was thanks to that wonderful old house which welcomed us back every year with warmth and love – it’s beginning to sound like The Waltons!  No, the minute we arrived, bags down, it was drinks in the conservatory and Christmas had well and truly begun.  The most ridiculous scenario – and the most fun – was after dinner, though, when, table cleared, brandy poured, my mother would supervise our wrapping of all the presents – including our own!  How we would laugh into the early hours.  How I miss that – and that special old house; the keeper of our hearts.

The magic fades too fast
The scent of summer never lasts
The nights turn hollow and vast
But nothing remains … nothing lasts.’

 Sanober Khan

Where is the positivity?  At the beginning, remember?  I pointed out that this is the shortest day …  I know, this time of year sweeps one up in nostalgia; reflection.  A year in a prison cell or caged in a zoo.  That is how this one has felt.  Deprived of free will, the right to choose, one has been forced to acknowledge that which feeds the soul.  In a life which has been stripped back, it is obvious that the trappings are mere icing on the cake.  What truly matters is family, friends … and freedom!

This is the shortest day!  Darkness is all around and I should really be putting up the last of the decorations and wrapping some presents.  Baby steps.  I popped into the local farm shop, this morning, to secure some vegetables and bits and bobs in a bid to avoid the nightmare that is the supermarkets.  Secure is probably the right word, too, following Saturday’s news and then the blocking of the Channel Tunnel.  Trucks piling up with supplies en route to the UK … They will be out there, now, sweeping the shelves!  Britain has truly become the persona non grataAnnus absolutely bloody horrendous seems a fitting description for the past twelve months and, now, 2021 is to be stolen from us, too!  Christmas Day.  Granted one day and that’s it.  Characteristically ludicrous, what difference does it make if, after spending the whole day together, one stays the night?  Well, once more, there can be no partaking of the demon alcohol and God forbid anybody venture into the realms of enjoyment.  Rhetorical question, then.  The thing is, with plans already made, who is going to adhere to the latest regulations?  Dominic Cummings, Neil Ferguson, Catherine Calderwood, Margaret Ferrier (smoke and ears!), Jeremy Corbyn?  Negative.  Myself?  I confess, I gave up on the Tiers a long time ago and I am not alone.  Nobody knows or cares until we are locked down, once more, closing all hospitality and non-essential businesses.  Hereby Boxing Day’s delight!  Happy Christmas to the lonely, the depressed, the anxious, the sick (because there is so much more than COVID to worry about), the bankrupt businesses, the thousands of unemployed and the increasing number of homeless … and that’s for starters.

To make the opportunist Nicola Sturgeon and the hapless Mark Drakeford look good is not an achievement anyone should want on their curriculum vitae.’

Skimming through my deluge of emails courtesy of The Telegraph online, I had to include the words of Simon Heffer in his article of yesterday, ‘Beware Boris, the rage of people reaching the end of their tether could end in your tears.’  Ironically, I think Boris sealed his fate months ago when he bowed to Dominic Cummings.  Of course, Dom of Barnard Castle knew too much and Boris was between a rock and a hard place but that’s the thing, at the end of the day, it is all about politics and politics is merely a vessel for man’s ego with no happy endings.

Hallalujah for the little things …  Seeing it was 6pm, I turned on the TV and was immediately confronted with Coronavirus Update!  Thankfully, the temperamental remote responded to a swift change of channel and it was, then, I bore witness to a little Christmas miracle!  Butterflies!  Geoffrey Palmer!  BBC 2.   There is a God!  Or, perhaps, it was just a nod from someone special watching over me …   Happy Christmas, Pop, and give my love to Geoffrey, too!  I have spent the last half hour in the comfort of 1979, a gentler world.  It made me smile.

Something else which made me smile, my phone rang – it does from time to time – and it was our friend, Herr Benno, phoning from Ströbl – across the lake from St Wolfgang – to thank me for my card and wish us a Happy Christmas.  If things were different, he would have been at Salzburg Airport to collect us, as he does every year, last Saturday evening.   Who would ever have believed that the Benno we first met in 2000 – and who was unimpressed, not only that we brought two young children with us but that we had booked the Hotel through Inghams, a tour company, no less – would, twenty years later, be phoning us at home?  A dear friend who is, needless to say, a one-off!

Life moves in mysterious ways …  For my part, I shall be forever grateful that one is oblivious to that which lies ahead, though.  As for the over-riding lesson garnered from this awful year?  Count one’s blessings, none of which are inanimate!

Let me end with the last verse of one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time, sung by the inimitable Judy Garland in the 1944 film, Meet Me in St Louis.  Seems, somehow, fitting …

‘Someday soon, we all will be together
If the fates allow

Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So, have yourself a merry little Christmas now.’  …

This is Trish, signing off.