When the lights suddenly go out and the house starts to creak.
When the cat has left a dead rat in the middle of the hallway.
When you’re woken in the middle of the night by a tapping at your (upstairs) bedroom window which, sure, is probably the tree. Probably.
When you are neck deep in a wonderful hot bubble bath and the phone rings. Stops. Rings again. Stops. Rings again, and it is obvious the caller is not going to give up.
When you have to climb a wobbly ladder. When you are trying to put up a 6′ curtain rail and you only have a 5′ arm-span. And a wobbly ladder.
When you are watching a scary movie and there’s a sudden crash in the kitchen.
When – no, you take over now. I have to work out how to dispose of the biggest dead rat I’ve ever seen. I write about bodies all the time, sure, but they aren’t four-legged, bald-tailed, and possibly just playing dead. If it suddenly roars back to life, I’ll, well, I’ll set the dog on it, that’s what I’ll do. From the safety of the hallway chandelier.
It does occur to me that with more singles every day, and more of us in our second flush of vibrant youth rather than the first, that it’s time we got together and formed a few co-operatives. I’d move into my fictional corpse-dotted village for those over 55 in a heartbeat if it existed but until then I’d rather like to know there are some local hardy types I could call on. I’m not entirely sure what I could offer the co-op in return. I can bake and roast, but am otherwise a fairly dire cook, and I don’t iron. I’m beginning to realize why I’m single, but there’s sure to be some skill I take entirely for granted which would be co-op currency?
Talk among yourselves. Post any good ideas. Ta.
And no, don’t look nervous, I’m not about to invite you to join me for a day of jollity. I’m ducking invitations like that myself, for all that I am sincerely grateful for them and the goodwill that prompted them.
I’ve done my time in the kitchen preparing an enormous meal for extended family and a few scattered Christmas orphings we hauled in to dilute the family. Years and YEARS of it and they were lovely busy times and much enjoyed. I’ve also done my time being a Christmas orphing, invited along by lovely people who truly and honestly believe no-one should be on their own over Christmas.
I’m no longer even explaining that I could be with family this year, if it wasn’t financial year-end, and wasn’t too far to drive for a 4 day weekend, and my dog is a horrible passenger, and my cat hates the car and the dog. I’m just saying I’m spending it with friends and then everyone’s happy.
I am, too. Rather dishy real one (some of the time) and my lovely imaginary ones at the Lawns and the new lot coming up towards publication (a lot of the time) and I’ll be stocking the pantry and eating too much and blowing the dust off some half-forgotten box-sets and watching those and – oh please. Take that look off your face. I’m choosing this. There’s a gathering of about twelve relatives and in-laws happening down in that England and I am deeply and sincerely fond of, hmm, let’s see, one of them. I like as many as three of them. Just not so much that I will drive four hundred miles there in winter conditions with a complaining cat and a feverishly restless dog, and two days later drive four hundred miles back ditto, just to eat a lot and watch TV and make polite small talk in between stopping the cat scratching unfamiliar furniture and the dog trying to dominate the other dog who actually lives there and doesn’t really want to be dominated.
People who take in the lonely at Christmas are saints, and can’t be praised too highly. But if someone says they are spending the holidays alone, don’t feel obliged to lay another place at the festive table. Sure, if they are looking at you with plaintive hopeful last-puppy-in-the-shop eyes, extend the invitation. But if they look cheerful at the prospect – be happy for us.
And have a wonderful, wonderful time with your friends and family, or slobbing out in your PJ’s feeling delightfully sinful. Hugs all round xxx