Thursday 22nd December
Edward and I always used to have my mother over for Christmas, but the last few years I have preferred being on my own rather than with people and I don’t really know why. I do enjoy company and being with friends, but the thought of it, the anticipation, fills me with some sort of dread, whereas the actuality when it arrives is never so awful. Christmas itself, though never overly celebrated as a child was still looked forward to by the young Catherine, not that I ever had that many presents really, certainly not compared to today’s over-spoilt children who tell their parents not only precisely what they want but also that it is only 99.99 – television’s pernicious influence I fear. I used to get a box of pencils with my name printed on them in gold and a small tin of toffees from Aunt Maud and an encyclopedia or maybe a Bunty Annual from our cousins, and jewelry or clothes from Grandma and my mother. When I was still quite young and only for a few years after we had moved to Putney I would run down the stairs to the hall when I heard the clatter of the letterbox as our Postman delivered cards during the week before Christmas. I was only interested in the stamps and the postmark, but no, no foreign stamps and especially none from Cyprus. Grandma told me years later that my father had written to me on my birthday and at Christmas, but I never saw the envelopes (or the contents either)– maybe Grandma had some secret magic way of spiriting them straight into her hands and so by-passing the one who they were truly intended for.
And so after four years without my mother I have decided that she is to come and stay for a few days, and I am almost having fun changing sheets and putting out new soap and towels for her and thinking about the food I will cook and the wine we will drink. She has insisted that I needn’t bother on her account, and of course I need not, she is only my mother, but somehow I am making a real effort this time. I am even having a few neighbours in for drinks this Friday and I have bought a copy of Radio Times, which is the first time in years, and highlighted one or two things I particularly would like to watch, in some ways it is almost like old times. And this brings me to the real meaning of Christmas, it is the making of an effort, the sharing with people, the being with people that is important – not the presents and the food (most of which is wasted if not thought about carefully) but the simple act of sharing your time with people.
So, no more moaning about my mother, or what I often perceive of as a somewhat sad little childhood, but which in all probability I enjoyed as much as any child, I am going to be happy this Christmas. I am going to fetch her tomorrow, and though she has told me not to go to the expense of a taxi, we will be travelling in style, after all, what else do I have to spend my money on.
So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun, as someone once sang. Hahaha