The slow breath of expectation as the car turns into the driveway.
There, in the window, sits the flickering Christmas tree
Uncle Frank’s Candle Fire Christmas lights,
Now a fortune on EBay,
Chatter spills a welcome into the dark hallway,
While impatience kicks its heels waiting for the sitting room to open.
Finally with a contented sigh, the door bids enter.
Fire crackles a welcome hello
And warmth a homely embrace.
Names are called, presents handed over, paper ripped and torn away.
Busy excitement, proceeds focused exploration.
Temporarily the room is abandoned and left in peaceful quiet.
Then the return is measured and slow.
Guests drift in slowly, Christmas dinner filled
To sink and snuggle into soft sofas
And watch the Christmas afternoon telly.
I have always loved Christmas and always felt that my family Christmas was something special. As a child my family would spend the day at my Gran and Granddad’s house. A house that,to me, is held as my childhood place of adventure. It was always a place of safety from my often fraught family home. It was a place full of friendly people, or so it seemed. It was also the place where one Christmas, I spend some rare quality time with my dad.
My dad removed himself from us most of time, cloaking himself with alcohol, so that it was often hard to know who he truly was. It built bitterness and resentment. His clumsy, alcohol fuelled attempts to engage, were met by strong resistance. His unpredictable personality did much damage. However there were rare moments, when I was allowed to see ‘him’. Christmas at my Grandparent’s house was one such time. That Christmas afternoon found my dad and me in the sitting room, watching the film ‘The Sting’. The rest of the family were in the other room, watching a different channel on the second TV. Those were the days, when two TV sets satisfied the choice of watchable channels.
As the film neared its climax, the point where it appears that Robert Redford’s character has been forced to betray Paul Newman was reached, I expressed my concern. “Just watch it!” my dad said reassuringly. Sure enough the film works out in a clever way, as they always do and I was able to share a delicious father, daughter alcohol-free moment. Those moments with my dad are memorable, because they offered a taste of what could have been. When my dad died many years ago, I had no tears for his passing, just a sadness that one human being was only rarely able to let me in.