Christmas Story #3

ADVENT

by Isabel Dennis-Muir

 DAY 1

They’ve opened the first window and it’s not looking good if last year’s anything to go by. She had her girls’ night out last evening, so it’ll be a late morning and she’ll be in a rush, you mark my words.

DAY 2

You can call it a heated argument, but I would say it’s a full blown row. It was exactly the same last year. They can’t decide between real and artificial, but in my opinion it makes no difference. From my viewpoint a tree is a tree.

DAY 3

It would appear they have settled on a compromise, which from where I’m standing is double the trouble. They’re going to start off with an artificial one, then after the 14th they’ll move that into the hall and get the real one in and ready for the run up. So that’ll be twice the confusion, messing about with baubles and all that nonsense. I have no idea why they bother.

DAY 4

They’ve only just realised how behind they are with the whole present buying rigmarole. So now they’re talking about shopping after work for the next five nights. And I know exactly what that will mean. It’s not just the shopping, because they have to stop for a drink or food and all the time I’m stuck here not seeing the light of day – or evening.

DAYS 5 – 9

As I expected, it’s been a rushed outing every evening this week. I even heard him say it was the worst chore of the day, which was hurtful.

DAY 10

There are two weeks to go but she’s insisting on doing the first round of food shopping. Dried stuffs, alcohol, that kind of thing. They’ve had another row because he thinks they may as well do it all at once and she says no, because the shops will run out of pickled onions and cranberry sauce. I’m fairly certain they haven’t touched the lot they bought last year. I’m sure I saw them when she opened the cupboard the other day.

DAY 11

The twins are performing in their school play today. Of course, I don’t get to go, but I did see them practise it the other night before they went to bed and I thought they were excellent. Olivia was in her element; of course, she is your archetypal drama queen, always making an unholy fuss when she has to take medicine, or have her hair brushed. (Mind you, I do have some sympathy with her.) Amelia has the sweetest singing voice, a little high pitched for my liking, but then she is a girl.

DAY 12

Now we have a real dilemma. It’s snowing and not just a light sprinkling, but thick flakes that are covering everything in sight. It’s fine for the twins, they’re shrieking with delight, which isn’t easy on the ears (see my note from yesterday about high pitched noises). But out they go, all wrapped up in their warm boots, knitted gloves and hats. By contrast I have none of these things. I heard her say she didn’t think there was any point buying me a coat because the chance of a snowfall was extremely remote as the last few winters have been so mild. I would have thought she could now make an exception and change her mind. I’ve heard a lot about global warming recently, but looking out at that snow I’m wondering if they’ve got it wrong.

DAYS 13 AND 14

I’ll admit that the snowmen the twins made in the back garden looks very jolly. I was quite happy to watch them through the French doors, as going out there and joining in means the inevitable half an hour of getting sorted out on my return. It takes ages for my feet to thaw out too.

DAY 15

The only thing that’s worse than the coldness of snow is the mess it makes when it melts. What was at least white, pretty and soft, is now a slushy grey mess, with icy puddles and extremely slippery pavements. On a couple of occasions she almost went flying and would have taken me with her, but she managed to grab hold of a railing at the last minute and we were saved, thank goodness.

The park is completely out of bounds though. The pond is still frozen over, not that it affects me, but I’m just wondering how long it will take for things to get back to normal. And I don’t just mean the weather.

DAY 16

It would appear they are to have visitors and they’re not just popping in for a meal or drinks, they’re coming to stay for the whole duration. The implications are that rooms needs to be reorganised, my bed will inevitably be moved several times and then there’s the whole cleaning debacle. The vacuum that this household has must be the noisiest one in the street. It has a high pitched whine that goes right through me. I’ve tried to get out of its way, but there’s no quiet corner to be had. Any thought of an afternoon nap is completely out of the question.

DAY 17

Having finally finished her cleaning she’s now intent on making more mess. Today sees the arrival of the real tree. Boxes of decorations are brought down from the loft with the inevitable cobwebs and dust. It doesn’t happen often, but I found myself having a sneezing fit straight after lunch, which didn’t do my digestion any good, I can tell you.

DAY 18

Although the snow has all disappeared now it’s still very cold, particularly at night and in the early mornings. It’s fine once he’s lit the fire – it’s the one benefit of this time of year, being able to sit in front of a roaring fire. But then come late evening, just when I’m trying to doze off, the fire goes out and that’s them off to bed, without a thought that downstairs the temperature drops considerably. An extra blanket wouldn’t go amiss.

DAY 19

The smells coming from the kitchen are driving me crazy. She’s doing her preparatory cooking, so there are a few titbits to be had, but it’s scant pickings to be honest. She’s planned a very challenging menu. Some of the visitors are vegetarians, so choice is the order of the day. Well, lucky them, I say. I don’t want to sound ungrateful but I’d like the chance to choose now again too.

DAY 20

Once the twins were in bed this evening he brought down loads of shopping bags and between them they started doing all the gift wrapping. I don’t understand the point of it. If you want to give a present to someone why do you need to cover it up with paper? Looking at the quantity of parcels I would say they’ve gone completely over the top this year. Last year was bad enough. It took the twins three hours to open them all and by the time they’d reached the last parcel they looked pretty bored with the whole exercise. Plus the longer it takes to unwrap everything, the longer we wait for dinner and the whole day’s routine goes to pot.

DAY 21

Today the schools close down for the holiday. Both the girls came home carrying balloons, which they were very excited about. Apparently, they had done so well in the school play they were applauded in assembly and then given balloons as a prize. Well, balloons are all well and good when they stay inflated, up near the ceiling somewhere. However, whether it was the heat from the fire, or the spiky branches of the tree, I can’t be sure, but suddenly they both burst. Frightened the life out of me. I think it gave the girls a bit of a shock too. Amelia started to cry until her sister called her a cry-baby and then they just ended up shouting nasty things to each other and were told to be quiet and go and sit in the corner. Now that does sound familiar.

DAY 22

I managed a wonderfully long sleep today which was a bonus, because the next few days are not going to be easy.

 DAY 23

He had his works do this evening and arrived home singing at the top of his voice. This was not good as even when sober he would be well described as tone deaf. Also he was still wearing a paper party hat and had garlands of tinsel wrapped around his neck. It was not a pretty sight. She was not amused and made him sleep on the sofa, which I was really not pleased about, particularly as he snores very loudly. All this going on when they should be thinking about getting plenty of sleep before tomorrow, because I remember from last year that that’s when it all kicks off.

 DAY 24

Sure enough the day dawns and with it complete chaos. They still aren’t talking, she kicked him off the sofa while he was still snoring, which didn’t help. She’s shouting that the visitors are due to arrive late morning and there’s food to defrost, tables to lay, drinks to chill. Thankfully they’ve already made up the guest bedrooms and I’m guessing the bathrooms are spick and span. But I’m desperately hoping he’ll get the vacuum out soon because the pesky needles have started to fall from the tree and they’re incredibly painful if you get one in your foot.

Any thought of the usual routine is completely forgotten. I’m guessing it will be like that for the next few days. There’ll be too much food eaten, too much alcohol drunk, then they’ll fall asleep in front of the TV and there’ll be little or no chance of a stroll in the fresh air.

Finally, when Christmas morning arrives they’ll be the usual scramble at present opening time, then the festive breakfast of bacon rolls and Bucks Fizz. I may have an extra bone, or a few turkey flavoured treats. Last year they even gave me a Christmas stocking, which was very kind and all that. But it’s a small gesture and doesn’t really compensate for the last twenty-four days.

After all, you would think they’d have learned by now that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.

 

© Isabel Dennis-Muir 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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