The gathering of relatives on Boxing Day. Grandparents, Aunt, Uncle and cousins. A second attempt at Christmas Day. A large table, party hats and games. Too many helpings of food and drink. The rippling of voices and laughter. A loud family rejoicing together. A walk on the beach. Extremities wrapped up in hats, scarves, and gloves. Even earmuffs. The fresh gusts of air. The sea's roar and the screech of gulls overhead. Returning to a warm welcoming house, tea or hot chocolate, and cake. The confectionery fights. Everyone had their favourite choc. Stealing the Cadbury's Milk Tray box to ensure I got the orange cremes. Battling others for the ones filled with praline. The goodbyes. The bear hugs. The long drive home in the dark. Slumber, my head lolling forwards and backwards, in intermittent doze.
Awakening from this dream to the present scene. A quiet Christmas. People now missing from these festivities. These times past, gone forever, like the childhood I yearn to have back at Christmas. The present celebrated differently. A house of three adults, restless and bickering. Our normal routines disrupted. Daily combat for command of the TV remote. Who gets to use the bathroom first. A visitor, in a house where I used to live, trying to fit in with the timetable. Needing to be a help, not a bother. Unwilling to give up my independence even if it's only for an hour. I can wash up, make a cup of tea for myself. I'm not a child any longer. Where will future Christmasses place me I wonder. A spinster alone in a flat surrounded by stray dogs and cats. The ghost of Christmas future beckons to me. Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol, a possible reality. No, that will never be me!!