A fest we all need
This morning in our small market town, Camilla returned laden with produce. “They were lining up outside the butchers, in the fruit&veg I was third in, the cheese shop were still scrubbing counters to lay down the rounds of cheese.”
That was an hour before I woke (another bad night) and it marks this hectic week. She continued, “Paul in the veg said he’d had to dash to the Bristol Markey because it’s been so busy he’d run out of stock. He did look shattered, Pooor man”
Paul lives above his shop, as do one of two others in this old little town. That’s an improvement for him, he used to drive each morning from Torquay, get produce from Bristol market and then arrive here in time to open at 8am, nearly three hours driving before a full day in the shop and then he had his run home. In the days when I could shop, he’d told me, “I love this job, at least I have my evenings free.”
I had laughed, “What evenings, 8pm until sleep. Rise at 4am.”
“As a chef, it was longer hours, particularly under the likes of Gordon Ramsey….”
“Slave work,” I said.
Nowadays Paul spends his extended evenings cooking up compotes, jams and soups using up produce which is fading and twice a week he produces warm take-away lunches which those who live alone enjoy buying.
“Camilla,” I said when I eventually arrived in the kitchen desperate for that first vital drink of the day (at 9.30am!), “This Christmas, we aren’t going out nor having guests in, but we’ve far more food than at any Christmas before.”
“I know,” she looked sheepish. “It’s the pressure at this time of the year…. You go mad without thinking….”
I gave her a hug. “I know why,” I stroked her nose, “it’s been a really rough year looking after me on and off since January….” “Yes,” my wife with her incredible medical knowledge and background looked forlorn, “really worrying….”
“I love you,” I stroked her cheek and thought back to the times we had wondered if we’d see one another again as we’d parted in hospital corridors (due to Covid rules), of the nights in our bedroom when things had gone wild and we’d both known anything could have happened.“You need this release of Christmas. We both do.”
She kissed me, “And now you’re ill all over again….”
“But rising and determined to make this a great, if lonely, Christmas!” Loneliness, I have discovered, is in your head, you can lift above it, but then I’ve had her…. Imagine those who’ve suffered as much and on their own….
We hugged and then we did a tiny little dance. Afterwards, as I sat down puffing, I recalled the faces of those less fortunate and hoped they had made it from hospital and were now relishing life as we all slide towards the joy of this ancient Feast and Fest which is an exuberant celebration of the lengthening days.
Merry Mid-Winter to you all!