The most important gift for me, this year, is the little yellow line on the Covid test I just took for the second time: again, negative. Robin on the top floor definitely has it, but after my negative test Friday, we decided to go ahead with Xmas. An hour after everyone left that night, my nose started to run; I’d developed a bad cold. A cold, or (dun dun dun – danger music) THE THING?
So, just took a home test again; what a relief. If my symptoms continue I’ll find a PCR test, in the meantime keeping away from people, which isn’t hard as we’re all frightened and burned out. Ruth just wrote, “Everyone’s kids and grandkids have it. It’s the thing to do.”
I’ll sit by the fire and read. Perhaps I’ll write in the journal Anna gave me with the beautiful fountain pen from Lynn, wearing my new lambswool scarf from her. Anna also gave me a gorgeous hooked rug from Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, and Sam a special pillow that’s supposed to help with sleep – how well they know me. The hamster, now called Little Hamlet the Fearless, was the best present for the boys. When they got home with him in his big plastic house, he was the source of much interest from Naan the cat. “Oh thank you for bringing me this delicious snack!” Sam said in Naan’s voice. “Just how do I get the wrapping off?”
For many years, we always had guests – my parents or other relatives, people we called homeless waifs, who needed a friendly place at Xmas. But recently, just us. Though it was so low-key, I still find it stressful, hoping everyone is content and full. Anna was thrilled with her Christi Belcourt print, and Sam, who loved his visit to Ireland years ago, with his W.B. Yeats framed poem – “Tread softly, for you tread on my dreams.” Thomas spent much time assembling a Lego Titanic with a million little pieces – it said “For 6 up,” what a joke! – and the Playmobil rescue centre with helicopter and boat. There wasn’t a single argument about anything. The boys played quietly for what seemed like hours. The fire made us all overheated. Dinner was wonderful. It was all the best.
Except for Sam, who had another friend in the bar industry commit suicide recently. There’s an epidemic, my kids told me, of opiate overdoses and suicides, particularly now, as everything shuts down again and it all seems hopeless. It is a harsh, cruel time for many on our already burdened planet.
Today, resting, solitary, sneezing, making two big vats of turkey soup. I took poor Robin, isolating in his suite, a plate of our Xmas dinner and today will bring him some soup. I took down almost everything Christmassy; when it’s over, I can’t wait to put it all away and now there are no children here to object. Thanks to the stars for the James Webb telescope that just launched; for the life of Desmond Tutu. For family. For health. Above all, right now on our battered planet, for hope, and health.
Before the chaos …
Ready for the feast
The chaos – Hamlet’s house
Assembling the rescue centre
Little Hamlet the Fearless.