|Good excuse to look at Paul Nicholas. |
Click here for a cheese fest
As a child, though, it was a hideous void of anti-climax.
When I was 8 my Grandma (who had lived with us for 4 months of the year for as long as I could remember) had her 80th birthday party at our house. It was 29th December and, as Mum and Dad were not exactly party animals, a big “do” like this was a novelty. Relations I hadn’t seen before (or since, come to that) came from all over the country.
The following day we were due to go out for lunch with my cousin and his family but Grandma didn’t feel up to it. She took to her bed and died a week later. (If you read my last blog you may see a pattern emerging!)
When I learnt as an adult that it was only a week I was amazed – to my 8 year old self it had seemed an unsettled eternity: Everything had been different and uncomfortable.
To begin with I made still lemonade for Grandma but then she became too ill for that.
I didn’t see her again after the morning the lunch plans were cancelled.
Didn’t know she was dying.
Didn’t get to say goodbye.
|Me if gold injections had carried on|
(Oh OK OK but I can dream can't I?)
On the first Friday of term Mum and I went off to the hospital for my weekly gold injection (a treatment that helped my arthritis enormously but to which I developed an allergic reaction – otherwise by now I would be shimmering!) However,instead of going straight back to school, we visited some friends and I was allowed to stay THE WHOLE DAY ON MY OWN! Mum left and I was taken home that evening.
I remember clearly sitting on the arm of the settee, while the friends’ baby plonked on the piano, and quietly asking Mum how Grandma was. I'm ashamed to say but it was the first time during Grandma's illness that I had asked. Mum told me she had died in the early hours of the morning.
I didn’t know what to do.
Everyone else was socialising as if it were a normal day. We weren’t an emotional, demonstrative family and I wasn’t a child given to crying in public. I swallowed the confusing swirl of emotions deep inside and that is where they stayed.
I never did cry for Grandma. I didn’t go to the funeral and her death was never talked about, but every year during that time from Christmas into New Year, I would be haunted by the same unsettled feelings and fear of loss.
This sense of isolation wasn't helped by Dad and Big Sis going back to work, while Hobble Boy and Mrs McTeach headed off to Scotland for Hogmanay. With my friends still immersed in family stuff, it was just mum, me and an eerie, silent stillness.
It took a long time to shake those negative associations (if I ever have completely) but now it is exactly that sense of peace and space that enables me to reset; it acts as an airlock between careening chaotically into Christmas and stepping sedately into January.
For a few months I feel as if I am maintaining some kind of control over life, that I am steering a course, Captain of my own destiny. Inevitably, however, at some point in the summer, time seems to pick up speed and, by autumn, my ship has become a car on a roller coaster and I am no longer steering but clinging on desperately until I am finally flung - exhausted and usually full of cold - to the end of the year.
I came to the conclusion in my teens that humans are, in fact, meant to hibernate. I have not changed this opinion.
In October, just as the roller coaster is reaching full momentum, I have an overwhelming desire to wrap myself in a duvet and curl up under a table or in the cupboard under the stairs.
My teenage self would have limited hibernation to January and February (not wanting to miss my birthday and Christmas.) Nowadays I think sleeping from mid-October to mid-March would be just fine and by January the need to hibernate is very strong.
So, on the one hand I am focused, in control and determined that this year I will achieve the things I want to and on the other I want the world to go away and just let me sleep.
I suspect I may be a secret SAD sufferer. What do you th…ZZzzz