Attempting to make it as a writer

Posts tagged ‘christmas’

Leaving Home

How I came to be stood on Andover train station on a Saturday afternoon nearing the end of November waving inwardly to a disappearing train as realisation hit, is  a different story altogether.  Suffice to say rail engineering works had disrupted the normal timetable and a personal trip to Oxford for a meal led me via Andover.

We arrived at the station and realised we had just missed the train to London, but we had a complicated list of ticket related purchases to organise so the lack of pressure was not unwelcome.   Finally sorted with tickets we made our way to the platform.   A warming cup of tea was essential and a few moments to catch up on all the last 19 years’ worth of chit chat although I was unaware really of the whole significance of the conversation.

Number 1 Son had announced earlier that week that he had enjoyed being up on the boat in London so much that he was going to return this week.    I had persuaded him to delay the trip by a day a couple of times but this time he was serious.  He had negotiated a deal to allow him to stay on the boat for a bit longer, now with packed bag, phone, wallet and probably a few nerves we were sat waiting for a train.

“You do know this is me leaving home?” he informed me “I will only be coming back for visits from now on”

Dismissing the point of the comment I concerned myself with clean underwear, toothbrush, and enough money to buy food.   He had his phone, he had his laptop; I persisted with the importance to call, email, message me in the mornings and evenings just so we knew he was ok.  After all he would be on a cold wet dock with ice and damp a very real threat, no one to notice if he was ok or not.  Deaf ears come to mind.

As the minutes ticked by the tea turned cold in unison with the lead forming in my heart.  He was 18 and about to take a huge step out of our lives and into his own independent future and I could not hold him back.

The announcer informed the sparsely peopled station that the train would arrive in a few moments. Flapping around with all the good motherly advice I could think of to impart to an 18 year old going to find fame and fortune in London.   I knew I had done it at his age but I seemed so much more grown up in those days!

I reeled off a list of where to find temping agencies, suggestions on what searches he could use on the internet, reminded him of all the local jobs he should apply for as he dutifully listened only to file in the ‘delete later’ compartment of his brain.

It was so quick when it came, a flurry of activity as the train whooshed into the station, doors open, a shimmying and pushing as people got off and got on, doors closed and whoosh the train was gone.  And with it my son, my first born, my first to leave the family home, and with him a whole new chapter of his life opened as a huge chapter of mine irreversibly closed.

It took me some while before I stopped staring into the distance imagining I could just see the speck of train through the damp mist forming in my eyes as I squinted.  Slowly, feeling as if part of me had left on the train, I retraced my steps towards the car; empty and lost I continued on my journey.

My efforts to remain cheerful focused on the fact No 1 Son had a 19th birthday the following weekend and was coming back to party with us and friends over a long celebratory weekend so I knew his leaving home was short-lived.  Two weeks after that he would be home again for Christmas, it is a long time since I had yearned for the festive season to arrive so quickly.

He did arrive home for his birthday with the news that he had a job in a bar in the centre of London starting the following week.  Before leaving again he did attend two local job interviews that had come up while he was away.  Careful weighing up and ignoring all the solid advice of his parents as to the security and future of the jobs and how his room was waiting for him to move back in again; all fell into the delete later brain cell.

I found myself 10 days later, again waving to the back of a London bound train with part of my heart aboard it.  Sexy Sporty Dad and I may be incredibly proud of his actions and independence but we are wishing for Christmas to hurry up and bring him safely home. Brave and independent he may be but he also seems completely unable to communicate that he is safe and well.  Although my spy network picks up hints that he seems to be enjoying working and meeting people and the odd phone call home reiterates he is alive and surviving.

With all the technology and gizmos available to us these days I am hoping the miles between are minimised and I can imagine him just upstairs or still out with friends.  Hopefully now that he is becoming a grown up his communications when he does contact us will be far more meaningful than the teenage grunts we have been used to over the past few years.







Festive Frolics

“Are we there yet?”

Simple words! They strike a chord, within the memory of any parent, who has travelled with children.  This Christmas we decided to break with tradition and travel up to Sexy Sporty Dad’s family for the festive season.  Rather than impose our whole family on any one person or family during this chaotic period we have taken a gamble against bad weather and booked a cottage deep in the heart of the Peak District.

It took a near military operation to be ready and organised to leave on time.

As the end of term bounded towards us I needed to find time to fit in a final week of school celebrations; nativity plays, and carol services all requiring our attendance.  A works lunch, and evening celebration of Christmas cheer; have all found space on to the once clear calendar.  Two poorly children laid low to the various bugs doing the rounds needing to be looked after and cossetted back to full health in time for the weekend trip added to the pressures.

Like every other family we had to meet up with family and relatives to transfer presents before the big day. Yet another trip to be pencilled in and the only time left to drop other items en-route to all the people we will not be seeing for at least a week.

Late at night or first thing in the morning I am moulded into my computer chair chasing online presents, long since ordered; now lost in the post.  Do I buy alternatives or another one the same from a different supplier? What exactly will I do with a second one, if they both now turn up?  Should I send it direct to the recipient as the item cannot possible arrive here before we leave.

A small card left amidst the mountain of Christmas cards from today’s postman greets me as I climb through the front door.  We tried to deliver but you were out; we have taken it away again… please call us to re-arrange delivery between 9 and 1.

I call immediately but the office is already closed, please try later.  I call first thing in the morning only to discover my parcel is already out on the delivery van, he will be with me sometime before 1pm. I try to explain that I am at work and will not be home but it can be left with a neighbour?  Certainly not madam it is for delivery to you and needs your signature!

Whatever it is do I really need this hassle.  I don’t even know what I am expecting that is that big.

I get home to discover the parcel has been signed for and delivered to a kind neighbour.  Four bicycle racks for the roof of the car have arrived; to aid Father Christmas with transporting two Christmas bikes.  We need the two extra for Sexy Sporty Dad and No 1 Son so they too can bring their bikes.    I breathe a long deep thankful sigh that five just could not fit on top of the car. I will be spared the cold, damp, effort of keeping up with them all, along the muddy, potholed, old railway lines trails that cut across the Peaks of Derbyshire.

Have we got enough clothes, will it be snowing, raining or is there any slight possibility of seeing any sun.  I wash, dry and iron on a daily basis each load planned to be the final holiday batch only to be presented with another pile of favourites not added to the already heaving wash basket.  Have we all got walking boots and do they all still fit, these boys grow so quickly we seem to be continually replacing them.  This is not the time of year to be buying shoes when there is so much else to be bought.

Another update on the Tesco shop, sensibly I booked them to arrive with all our food shopping late in the evening of our arrival.   This is the third time that I have remembered something extra to add then changed my mind about other items.  How much will we drink?  How many meals will we be eating out with family?  What will we doing about lunches, should I buy for them?

Most evenings I manage to wrap a few more of the ever increasing pile of presents getting them ready for delivery.  Such a shame all the elves in the world are busy helping Father Christmas as I could do with a little help myself.   The meagre pile for one child against the other worries me.  Careful budgeting has equalled itself three ways, but the size of the presents does not balance.  Will one child feel hard done by; fairness and replicating presents no longer works as they develop at their individual ages.  So the pile stands, ready packed for the journey.

And we are off, up early and filled to the brim in two cars as we cannot fit luggage, presents and children in one car.  I am permitted to take my new toy; an opportunity for me to show it off and make more wives jealous and more husbands question the wisdom of my husband’s precedence.  It may only take two of us and the odd bag but it relieves the space limitations in the other car and I follow at a sedate pace sure in the knowledge I will not be speeding as I follow the four bicycles along the motorway.

“Are we there yet?”

Six hours on the road and “Yes we are there”!

Five nights and we shall do it all again in reverse.
I wish you all a very happy, safe and peaceful festive season.


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