I can’t really pretend that I remember much about last Christmas, although, come to think of it, that sentiment probably applies to quite a number of Christmases in my past!
Last year Christmas was - how shall I put it? Peculiar I suppose. We were due to go to our son’s house for the day but I must admit this decision was accompanied by some degree of trepidation. We were interrogating ourselves as to whether we were really doing the right thing.
Then and suddenly like a rolling tide we began to hear from a number of friends, that they were now staying at home on their own. We really weren’t sure what to do. Our son said that it was up to us, we were still welcome. We just had to make up our minds, it was Christmas Eve.
Then our minds were made up for us. Our granddaughter had been partying the night before and one of the people she had been with had been diagnosed with COVID-19. No contest - were weren’t going. Blimey, this is beginning to sound like an episode of EastEnders!
Anyway; we turned down the offer of plated meals as we had a beef joint in the freezer – which sounds like a euphemism for something or other. To be absolutely frank, for me this was one of the side benefits to a burgeoning saga, as I had never liked turkey, considering the taste to be second only to that of cardboard and if you’ve never tasted cardboard I can assure you that it tastes rather similar to turkey, and as for pigs in blankets ….
So, the upshot of all of this was that Jan and I spent our first ever Christmas alone together. We made the most of it, eschewing all thoughts of TV, apart from the Queen’s speech of course. From what I understand we weren’t alone in this eventuality - well actually we were! At least I won the game of charades for the first time ever.
I’m going to digress here because Christmas is not Christmas without a traditional story and the previous mention of beef reminds me of another Christmas where meat is uppermost in my memory. Charles Dickens would have found it worthy of him I’m sure.
Once upon a time when my two siblings and I were in our childhoods, and when it had seemed like only yesterday that my Father had returned from the War – 2nd not 1st I might add - and we were living in a ‘Prefab’ in South London, our parents hatched the idea that we should keep chickens, and consequently my Father duly arrived home one day with six rather appealing little chicks. No, this wasn’t his lucky day, they were of the poultry type.
Upon removing them from the box, one chick unfortunately fell to the ground and broke its leg. Undaunted, my Father made a splint from a couple of matchsticks, and surprisingly this worked quite well and when she grew up, Henrietta - as we decided to call her – thrived; although with a limp caused by a withered left leg.
Time passed until one day, as my Mother was looking through the rear window, she noticed two rather corpulent rats running from the chicken coop - and that was it. The chickens had to go!
I should point out that this was during a time of food rationing so we had no choice. The chickens were sequentially despatched and consumed over a period of time, until, finally, it was Henrietta’s turn and, ironically, this happened to coincide with Christmas.
So there we all were, sat around the Christmas table in a scene where Tiny Tim would not have looked out of place, and it was time to carve our remaining chicken, whose name I cannot bring myself to mention again.
And then, and with a high degree of pluck (pun intended) my Mother tearfully began to carve until finally she asked the immortal question: “Who wants the small leg?”
I can’t begin to tell you what effect this had on us all. Suffice to say that, hungry as we were, none of us could face eating any of our recently departed friend and unfortunately this was a Christmas that will always be remembered for all of the wrong reasons. Which brings us neatly to the subject of this article.
At the time of writing it looks as if our Christmas this year will return to almost normal. But who really knows? Things can change overnight and all of our preparations can end in anticlimax again. But let’s be positive, we deserve a time of celebration with our family and friends so let’s hope that’s what we’ll get.
I’ve already been asked to produce my Christmas list; goodness knows! This gives me more trouble than trying to pretend that I like turkey – don’t tell anybody will you?
And here I shall conclude, apart from wishing you all a merry Christmas and, particularly, a happy and healthy New Year.