December & Epilogue
I have four pieces of writing left to finish – revise, polish – and then this collection is done. I have been pruning, weeding, getting rid of things that don’t need to be there, finding the focus of each piece, pulling the thread through. I’ve left it, walked away, returned to it, asked each essay what are you trying to say? I think I’m getting there, getting ready to put it to bed.
Below is a piece from December and an extract from the epilogue, and then I have fulfilled my promise to myself of posting an excerpt from each month (although the collection is no longer an essay per month, but twenty pieces of writing that move through the year). I hope to have it finished and ready to go before we fly to Australia in July, because that will be a fitting end to the period of time the writing plays out in. It has been interesting, going back to 2021 and rewriting and revising the words I wrote then – a lot has, of course, changed since then, the sense of hopelessness has lifted. But there is a lot of sadness and worry and frustration that persists. December, in particular, was a hard time of year during the pandemic and that snippiness I see in my words I no longer feel in April, as everything blooms and the evenings lengthen and Australia waits, open.
In any case, thank you, as ever, for reading along. Hopefully in a couple of months, you’ll have the whole thing in your hands, or on your Kindle.
I love Christmas, I always have. It has always been the most wonderful time of year, even in this corner of the world, as grey and cold as it is. I learnt, quickly, that white Christmases are an anomaly, which seems unfair because that’s all anyone talks about here when they argue for the superiority of cold Christmasses (Christmas in summer? That isn’t Christmas!). Snow, they say, as if it happens yearly, as if we’re all out there making snow angels on the 24th of December, year in, year out. It doesn’t and we aren’t. It’s just dark and cold and wet and miserable. That’s why you put up fairy lights when the days darken at three thirty in the afternoon. It’s why you drink hot wine, because there is no warmth anywhere else, not in the sky, not in the air. It’s why you bake with friends, big platters of Plätzchen to eat with buttered Stollen. All of these things help hide the fact that outside it’s so very, very bleak.
One cool, wet Monday morning in February, as the pandemic entered its third year, Covid showed up at our house. It announced itself in a very ordinary fashion, no fanfare, so little fanfare I didn’t even know it was my daughter’s slightly runny nose that morning. I had just dropped my son at kindergarten and was traipsing through a muddy meadow with the dog, when my husband called. Our daughter had tested positive on her self-test at school and needed collecting immediately. Standing in the field, February’s cold fingers sneaking down my collar and up my sleeves, I felt like I had finally stopped running and turned, panting, clutching my knees and doubled over to catch my breath, to face a faceless pursuer.
You found us.
caroline reay2 June, 2022 at 8:15 am
Lovely writing. Agree with your view of Christmas