Christmas wasn’t easy. She was with her dad (and his girlfriend, and their bump, and his family) and that left me on my own. I had envisaged an oasis of quiet; long hot bath-bombed soaks and hearty food, but no matter how armed I was with box sets and DVD’s, the emptiness curled itself cat-like on my lap. It wasn’t particularly awful either, and on any other occasion I love solitude – there was also the quiet yule magic of a candlelit hearth, a frosty midnight stroll under the brightest full moon, blanketed on the sofa with a mince-pie or book in hand – but God, did I miss her. Didn’t help that I had a cold or that I ate too many soporific carbs (mushroom wellington and sherry sauce, treble helpings of yum-yummy tarte tatin drowning in melted ice cream)…
But it was only a few days, and then she was returned to me.
The Christmas fairy came. Yes, you read that right – the Christmas fairy; the tooth fairy’s second cousin, she who bestows gifts on children whose parents live in different homes. We opened our presents and ate pesto cod and sweet potato gratin and a brandy-soaked brick, I mean Christmas pudding, which finished us both off. We went on daily stomps around the village and reaffirmed how delightful it was being in each other’s company. Mummy, her nearly-nine-year-old self said, life is all about reality, and we all have a very different reality to each other, but all our separate realities come together to make this big-reality-whole. That sounds about right, I replied, when did you think that one up? Just now, Mummy, and I bet we both experience a different reality of that black car over there…
The weekend before New Year was un-seasonally warm. I scarified the lawn of moss, dug in rotting, dusty grapes. New Years Eve we ate buttermilk pancakes, lit a candle and emptied the Joy Jar of all the tightly folded post-it notes, all our memories of 2018 – it’s a lovely way to wave goodbye to the old year, to remember all the fun we had together, that maths was now her favourite subject, that she had the lead role in her school Christmas play, and we enthused about our aspirations and dreams for the year ahead. And for the first time, we saw in the New Year together, on the village green, amidst hundreds of other revellers, under a never-ending cascade of fireworks the colour of Blackpool rock.
So here we are. 2019. I go back to work in a days time and she starts school. Being self employed, I took three weeks off over the holidays, a rest I want to repeat every year. If I could, I would take both December and January off; I believe neither month is made for hard graft, but to retreat into the deepest, darkest days, to surrender, root and stop.
2018 was a very productive year. I more than achieved my professional goals (be careful what you wish for) which was a wonderful and very necessary task but it came at a price, the cost of my writing. And therefore 2019 is a rebalancing and writerly year: I have made my self a promise of one blog a month, and to finally finish editing (and potentially resubmitting) my long suffering tome.
My word for 2019: Connection.