“Six. I counted six on the way home!” He burst into the kitchen, throwing his car keys onto the table. Wading through spaniels he pecked her on the cheek. The dogs wagged their tails hopefully. ‘Six’ sounded promisingly like ‘Snacks’..
“Christmas trees. Still decorated. In windows. It’s the 7th of January! Does no-one understand that there’s a time and place for these things? And after 12th night – which incidentally is not the 12th but the 5th January – the decs should come down. All of them. Otherwise” he looked grim “the goblins will come…” Catching a glimpse of the little boy he must once have been, she suppressed a snigger, as, with gusto, he continued.
“People don’t realise that if they don’t take them down, they must leave them up until Candlemas.” Blimey – he really was superstitious. Who knew? Although, now she thought about it, he did take the decorations down promptly each and every year. Most helpful in that department.
“Perhaps put something in the Parish mag. You know, to warn people.” She was joking, but “Yes…” he pondered this a moment with a serious expression. “Good idea..” With renewed enthusiasm he resumed his diatribe. “And the fairy lights. People are leaving them on all year round. It’s like some dystopian Narnia out there – always Christmas but never Winter.”
But she could sympathise with ‘people’. Such a faff to fix these lights all over the front of your house and up your trees. The neighbours had hired a cherry picker to illuminate the poplar in their garden a few years ago. And she wasn’t surprised that it never returned to take them down again – must have cost a fortune. To be fair though, they did switch them off between Christmases.
“Then there’s the pub.” Oh, hello – he was off again. “They’ve got those blue LEDs – not so much Comfort & Joy, more Accident & Emergency. And they’re on all year round.”
Truthfully though, she could totally identify with the reluctance to take down the tree, un-decorate the house and switch off the fairy lights. Calling ‘Time’ on Christmas was to stare into the face of cold, wet, dark and dismal weeks before Spring sprang, or was sprung, or whatever. Weeks devoid of the excuse to have a mince pie with breakfast. And cradle the tub of Celebrations each evening, binge watching box sets. And eat party food, pork products in pastry and turkey seven ways.
They’d already had a stab at Veganuary. Sadly killed off two days in, it was bludgeoned to death with use-by-date pigs-in-blankets. She sighed deeply and surreptitiously undid the top button of her jeans.
Back in the day, her favourite antidote to the January blues had been a trip to the travel agent. The sleet on the high street forgotten, she would move slowly along the shelves, selecting a magazine here and there. A delicious pick and mix of pure escapism. Lugging the dozen or so glossies home, she’d spread them out on the sitting room carpet and study them assiduously. She’d loved the pre-photoshop pictures of sunburned holidaymakers with angry-looking mosquito bites. And lusted after the out-of-reach all-inclusives with their trendy wristbands, cool activities and, that holiday nirvana for parents everywhere, kids clubs.. Happy days.
And back then, the overindulgence of the festive season was rectified by the perpetual motion of juggling a job and running about after the children. Mourning the metabolism of her youth, she seized her tablet and contemplated the annual January conundrum: To join a gym or not to join a gym. That was the question. Whether it was sound of mind to take membership and strive to use it enough to make the price per visit less alarming. Mmnnn.
“And on the subject of lights” Crikey, was he still at it? “why do people wait until they’ve driven around the corner, or over the brow of the hill, and dazzled you before dipping their headlamps? Twin spots burned into your retinas, you cling to your steering wheel and hope, both.” He announced rather dramatically as he stomped off to have a de-stressing soak, spaniels trailing up the stairs in his wake.
Watching him go, his current obsession with all things illuminated sparked a light bulb moment. She’d take him to see the Northern lights – he’d actually look forward to that. The gym… probably not so much. He’d be guaranteed a Narnian-esque helping of snow and bobbing around in the hot springs would be a tonic too – the kind not partnered with copious amounts of gin, like in December. Her suspiciously omniscient tablet obliged with adverts for cut-price mini-breaks.
Bursting into the bathroom, it must be said that her announcement “We’re going to Iceland!” didn’t initially send him into a transport of delight.. “Must I come? Could you manage on your own, if you didn’t buy too much?” he muttered plaintively, slumping further into his bathwater.
Poor darling, she thought, as she smoothed his wet, furrowed brow and elaborated, he really does need to lighten up..
© Lucia Foster-Found 2019