“Shut up, Dad, your end is dropping!” My brother’s in the middle: convinced he’s the strongest of us. He’s put me at the front, in charge of steering. At the back, Dad provides the ‘motivational soundtrack’.
“Bearing tree, we travel so far…”
“Dad! Are you listening? I feel like I’m carrying this whole damn thing!”
“Something mountain, into the fountain…”
“I’m pretty sure that’s not how it goes.”
“It will if you don’t stop poking me in the eye with the branches. I can’t see where we’re going.”
Christmases In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Further Away
“It’ll be an adventure,” she says, “We don’t need to be home; we’re together.”
The kids stare and nod. They’re too young to be sure what things were like before. Didn’t Christmas always mean magic, crackers and LFTs?
Weeks ago, she’d packed the essentials to bring Santa wherever they were and hidden it at the bottom of the case. Last night, she’d covered it with laundry and souvenirs, relieved to go home.
But home won’t let them in with a positive test. So Christmas will be an adventure, with as much magic as Mama can conjure from a secret bag.
How much explanation this one needs might depend whether you’ve done any pandemic travelling and/or have small children. It started at almost 200 words with a bit more explanation, but I hope it still makes sense in its FF form. If not, here’s the background.
The last few weeks we’ve been in the UK and Finland, visiting Santa at his home and then loved ones at what was once ours. The plan was always to be back at our current home for Christmas.
But it was touch and go. Travel involves a raft of covid tests and we knew at any point that there was a non-zero possibility of exposure, of a positive test, and of an emergency change of plan. So our back-ups included a bag of stockings and presents in the bottom of the case, just in case (pun intended) we had to recreate the magic in isolation somewhere other than home. The kids might have accepted that family presents were back at the house, but we couldn’t exactly say Santa didn’t know where we were … especially if we ended up quarantined in his backyard!
I’m typing this on the plane home. We still have more tests to do, but any isolation now will be in our house with our gifts already wrapped, food in the freezer and tree standing ready for decoration. This story, however, could just as easily have been us.
The story that follows this picture is fictional – all except the garage, which is real.
Advice was the one thing Dad always gave without hesitation. So I lapped it up in the place of love: never trusted a man with a skull tattoo, never bought vegetables after 6pm, got cars serviced at a dealership.
Then I bought my dream car: an 1967 MGB Roadster. My nearest dealership is Swansea and I’m not driving into Wales every time I need an oil change. Forums give the little garage rave reviews. The guy has a voice like an old MG engine: Soft and growly, sounds like trust.
Appointment’s tomorrow – something tells me he has a skull tattoo.
“They don’t know the half of it,” he opines, throwing a copy of today’s paper on the bar. “These reporters think they’re so clever but their sources are just tea ladies selling titbits for pennies.” He goes on, talking to nobody and everybody. He’s important, at least in his own mind; people will listen.
I don’t want to, of course. He’s handsome and arrogant and almost certainly an ass. But he’s spilling words like overfilled beers. If I make him feel I can’t get enough of him and his words and his self-confidence, he might drop something for tomorrow’s column.
By the way, genre for this one could be quite different depending whether you’ve just watched a Netflix / Hallmark Christmas movie (I started wrapping yesterday), or a political drama like Impeached: An American Crime Story, which is a weekly treat for me. 😉