Of all the years

The faint solitary strains of the King’s College ‘Once in Royal’ solo mark, without fail, the start of Christmas. This year it’s me, mum and my great uncle, with the radio on full blast so that he can hear it from his bed on the other side of the room.A new and inharmonious carol jars somewhat, and I can hear my brother’s teenage complaints shushed by Granny as if it was yesterday. The recollection leads to another and I see my brother’s anxious face leaning over the banisters telling us that Grandma has lost her false teeth. I hear my uncle repeatedly extolling the virtues of his new generator when the electricity went that Christmas eve. I picture my young cousin sinking into his annual post-dinner soporific state, exhausted by the food and his valiant efforts to not be the baby of the family. I smile at the memories of forgotten moments, resurrected by the same music and the old familiar words.

As the carols course through my veins they open the floodgates to the ghosts of Christmas past and I clearly see, feel and hear the people and places long since gone. At Christmas, they are somehow more present due to their very absence. I glance up to check that his chest is still rising and falling, realising how much older his fragile body now seems. I catch my breath and fight the tears that well up.

 “The pudding!”

Jolted from my melancholic ponderings, I let mum’s panic-stricken words clunk into place. “The pudding,” she continues, “I left it in the fridge!”

Lifted by her fretting back into the normality of Christmas with all its tasks, lists, and shipping of presents and food from A to B, I realise that I’m already turning this tangible ‘now’ moment into a ‘this time last year’ memory.  But that’s how Christmas works, isn’t it? A fusing together of the past and the present and the future into a bittersweet continuum that somehow makes life more real.

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

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One thought on “Of all the years

  1. This is very beautiful writing, and poignant to boot. Thanks for sharing.

    And if you had written ‘I’ at the end rather than ‘me’ at the start, *I* would have frowned, because that would be grammatically incorrect.

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