So Long A-coming.
So fast to fade away.
The first signs of Christmas festivities were already obvious in early November. The wreaths on Portchester’s front doors were a statement of intent well in advance of Advent Sunday, and almost a signal to other households to clamber into lofts and cupboards to retrieve the lights and tinsel of yesteryear.
Soon the glitter was being strewn across shrubs and inside windows. But serious seasonality was not really obvious until early December. The ivy falling over the school’s front wall was harvested — I guess for decorations. Soon after the opening, the precinct’s new Indian spice shop displayed a nativity scene and flashing lights started to be tacked around drives and onto garages. The determination to shake off Covid worries was now in tension with another Greek-named variant — though, if I were Greek, I’d probably utter a few Hippocratic oaths and demand the medics stick to numbers — such is the burden of scientific history.
Arrangements had to be made and travel planning became more complicated than Christmas shopping — especially for children and grandchildren visiting from abroad. Their arrival here in ‘plague island’ was not, however, as costly or complex as the return pre-flight testing schedules with destination countries steadily tightening their rules to guard against cross-infection. Fortunately, we do not have hard borders (yet) between England, Wales, Scotland, or Norn Ireland.
The Post-boxes were, once again, filled almost to overflowing but the card-sending season seemed to be spread over weeks — again a sign of pre-meditated planning. In our household the presents were wrapped way before the usual Christmas Eve panic. We even found time to read the Christmas letters — the annual reports of contacts lost to Covid, distant divorces, the occasional new-born, and (too late) the change of address.
Feast Day, and then, suddenly, it was all over — all bar the shouting about Covid variants and the masked rush to take empties to the bottle banks. The visitors had left and those of us who had long grown used to splendid isolation breathed a sigh of relief at the return of calm normality. Being sociable is so exhausting, ‘tho ’twas really lovely to see them all.
The decorations are away now, the lights repackaged, the bins emptied, the trees stand ready for collection, front doors are, once again, naked, the dog proudly wears his new digitally illuminated collar, and the blow-up father Christmas lies as deflated as we must all feel with the return of work, school and yet more miserable news bulletins.
But, hey, Spring is just around the corner, the nights will be getting shorter, and the cartoons will be merrier.
“Do you know who I am?” asked the tennis player.
The kangaroo replies. “No Vax Djokovic?”.
And a Happy New Year to any readers who have accidently strayed this far.
This article is part of a series ‘Portchester — the place I call home’ and first published as Bruno’s Blog by local Councillor Gerry Kelly.