So, didn’t 2021 turn out to be an exhausting little critter? I started the year with great intentions but then ground myself down with the guilt trip resulting from having absolutely nothing to show from the ‘Age of Covid’. No, nothing. Not a sour dough loaf or a podcast in sight. Not even a self-congratulatory pat on the back for rolling with the punches. Even the blog disappeared while I pretended to use the time to crack on with that unwritten novel. Reader, I feel I lost control.
By December, I was so bleugh that even the prospect of two weeks away from school seemed exhausting – and when the holidays did begin, so did a strategic game of Omicron Chess as Christmas plans ricocheted off the wiley regeneration of Santa’s little helpers, Delta and Beta.
Now, better women than I would congratulate themselves on their ability to relentlessly play whac a mole with the virus across the yuletide season – and they would certainly count their blessings that they have friends and family who make it more than worthwhile to rearrange and reiterate a social life. To be honest, I was so busy trading Lateral Flow Testing kits on the black market, that that it was hard to find the time to recognise my super powers.
Once my pity party is over (note that I replaced my intended New Year party with this variant), I intend to find the energy to note the following highlights from the Christmas period:
- An early London Christmas with Favourite Daughter (FD
Long story, but plans for FD to spend time with her brother chez moi, crumbled and there was little point crying over the fact that – for the first time in my life – I had been organised enough to wrap presents and to get a turkey stashed away in the freezer. Instead, realising that Favourite Son had successfully fled the country to make it into ski quarantine, FD and I regrouped in London. Well, we regrouped when I had negotiated the hilarity of Favourite Man’s son having drawn an additional line on to my precautionary Lateral Flow Test. Oh how I laughed.
Putting the suitcase FS had requested for Christmas to good use, (well, technically it was no good to him at this precise moment), I wheeled a stash of presents and our body weight in cheese in to her hermetically sealed bubble of a flat. Stoically we spent the weekend Lateral Flow testing, walking across London and eating my son’s Chocolate Oranges in order to save ‘Real Christmas’ a week later. FS dutifully FaceTimed as an interruption to our festive investment in ‘Love Actually’ and the Disney Channel. I left the metropolis reminded that I do have the best children, and that I can still drive through central London when I need to. I also left regretting my greedy ‘homage to the fromage’ which seems to have pre – Christmas gifted me a melted Camembert padded belt to wrap around my waist.
- Spending Christmas Day with Favourite Man and his daughter.
It was my first Christmas with FM and although it turned into a different day than we intended, when his daughter found herself Home Alone on Christmas Day (never date someone in the pub trade), we invited her to join us – after all, we were by now the proud owners of two turkeys, and – as I am vegetarian – this was an embarrassment of riches.
I soon rediscovered the joys of a morning whisky cocktail, a FaceTime with my two (‘you look battered mum’) and many games of Dobble . It was a game changer to learn that FM was happy to own the kitchen and that I was surplus to requirements in this respect. On Boxing Day FM’s daughter phoned to say she had been gifted with a positive LFT. Thank goodness for the immune-enhancing properties of whisky and the vast array of leftovers with which we were encumbered.
- A sleepover at my brother’s.
During all these yuletide shenanigans, my 96 year mother had been happily ensconced on my brother’s sofa with a box of chocolates and a jigsaw (I believe he allowed her to travel upstairs to sleep) and it was my role to collect her from ‘up North’ and return her ‘South’ to her carers.
When I arrived, it turned out that my Great Nephew (GN) was also sleeping over. Now I realise that it makes me sound ancient to have a GN, but I can forgive him for ageing me because he was just so lush.
In truth I had not anticipated such an active evening – I would have worn lycra – but I can only admire GN’s energy and his ability to create new games and get everyone off their backsides. One such game saw us (even my mum) marching around my brother’s lounge wearing post-it notes on which we had drawn random pictures. On the blow of a whistle (GN had rummaged through my teacher’s handbag to find said item) we all had to rush and stick as many Post-It notes as possible on another person’s head and then sit down. I am none the wiser about how anyone can win this game, but it was much more fun than any keep fit session.
In return, I introduced GN to the game of Dobble and he insisted on being referee when the others joined us. What a lovely young chap he is, for whenever he saw a player in danger of winning, he stopped them from playing while the others caught up. What a gentleman.
GN couldn’t quite get to grips with my name, so we settled on Auntie ‘Her’ and it was so lovely to be told that GN wanted Auntie ‘Her’ to bath him and to read his bed time story. There was me thinking I had a heart of stone – turns out that it was just indigestion.
- Time with Mum
By the time I had my engine running to return mum ‘South’, her two carers had tested positive for Covid, so my plans morphed again and my stay with mum was extended.
Mum was more than happy to tell me – repeatedly – that I was getting her care wrong. By the end of my visit she was leaving me little Post-It notes with care instructions ( I blame GN) and I wondered if she might suddenly produce a whistle . Instead, we devised our own little game of playing with the controls of both the sitting room heater and the TV volume – every time mum left the room I turned the controls down, and every time she returned, she turned them up again. It was like a game of Covid Chess. Not a word was said; it was a war of attrition and I believe she won. I can only apologise to the many visitors mum greeted during my stay; no one wants to be greeted at the door by a woman wearing a bikini when she is of a certain age and when she has eaten a certain number of chocolate oranges. Mum’s neighbours seemed relieved to see me handing over the baton of care to my older sister.
I have not been able to run with my usual crew over the holiday, but even without them , running has kept me sane. My hips still creak from that irresponsible autumn marathon and in my resolutions, I have committed to entering no long distance races this year. Take note and keep reminding me. The weather has been foul, but there is something special – and smug – about running on Christmas and New Year’s Day, for it takes a certain type of fool to keep plodding on when you have the perfect excuse to hunker down indoors with your Christmas fodder and when your arteries are lined with cheese.
I have this theory that when I return to work on Tuesday, I will realise how rested I am and I will then be able to galvanise myself into a much more positive and connected person. From behind their masks, the students might actually be pleased to see me. Until then I have one more day to lounge around and one more day of Netflix binging. I will use this day to get my vast array of masks freshly laundered and to keep my sanitised fingers crossed that I can clear one last lateral flow test and cross the border back on to the school site.
It’s been a while. Let me see if I can win back some sense of control in 2022.