Happy Easter!

Well, we’re nearly there. Lurching away from this extraordinary car-crash of a year and stumbling giddily, cautiously, into the next. Towards the end of last year, I bought a page-a-day diary, not having kept one for some years. I don’t know what made me think it might be worth starting one up again, after so long. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson, this year, but no, I’ve gone out and bought another one for next year, so I’m apologising in advance. Please don’t blame me!

Blame those who are crowding out our nearby large park and the river towpath, instead.  Cases of the virus have been rising steadily in our area, yet reports of large groups of non-socially-distancing people in these places are rife on our local social media, which has put the OH and I off from venturing there. Our nearby woods are heaving, as well, with many cars parked up alongside the main road, as the car parks themselves are overflowing. Instead, we have managed to find a couple of new walks this week – though we have had to use our car to get to them; they are local, but not walkable, doorstep-local. 

How was your Christmas?  Ours started off with a mild panic.  We couldn’t get hold of a small turkey for just the two of us. They had all gone – and I tried quite a few places. It hadn’t occurred to me that people would be ordering smaller birds because they wouldn’t be entertaining the usual hordes, this year. I even went online and was horrified to see some turkeys going for 70, 80 and even, in one instance, 140! Eye-watering. I ended up with a 17-pound (in cash, not weight) chicken from our local butcher, instead, and very nice it was, too. When ordering it, he asked me how many of us there were. “Just two, but we’d like a slightly bigger one, as we like to do things with it afterwards.” “Madam,” came the crisp response, “I don’t wish to know what you like to do with our chickens!” “I meant soup and sandwiches,” I added hastily.

It’s usually just the two of us, here, and we’re pretty happy with that. Friends are doing their own thing and family are scattered to the four winds; though in one memorable year, we had three sets of visitors (not all at once) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Another year, on Boxing Day, we were let down at the last minute by our guests, due to illness, and invited friends round to help us tackle the mountain of food we had bought in readiness. They were delighted to oblige. Last year, we volunteered at a local church and really enjoyed that, too.  We were looking forward to repeating the experience this year but, obviously, it didn’t happen. Ditto the carol service, in another local church, we managed to attend last year.

For quite a while, it has been our tradition to see a pantomime every Christmas Eve (“Oh, yes it has!”), which kicks off the festive break very nicely for us (“Oh, yes it does!” Sorry). Again, not this year. 

Garden centres must have missed Santa’s annual visit, as well. I never could work out how he managed to get round so many all at once… Talking of such places, I’m so pleased they have been allowed to remain open, this time around.  Linking to all things gardening and outdoors, I’m also pleased that mental health has become such an important and much-discussed topic. It was long overdue.

Some people made the decision not to do Christmas, this year and others went all-out for it, starting their decorating and doing the tree very early, in defiance. It was lovely to see the shops, pubs and cafes all open and busy again – only to have them closing their doors (aside from click and collect and takeaways) once more, and just before Christmas, too – the busiest time of year for many.  In my nearest shopping centre, the Apple store had the longest queue outside. Not surprisingly – where would we all have been, this year, without technology? I feel sorry for workers everywhere, though. Everyone I had spoken to previously said how happy they were to be working again. 

Several friends were heartily relieved they couldn’t go visiting, or have people visit them, over the festive period – though I have never really understood the massive feelings of unwilling, begrudging obligation that so many people appear to have over these things. It’s not very flattering to the other party, for one thing! Someone I know only spends time with their ex because there is no one else and they hate being on their own.  How does the ex feel about that, I wonder? Must make for a thrilling day for both of them.  

The OH once feigned sickness to get out of attending a family do, and reckoned it was the best Christmas he’d ever had – just him, the cat, a bit of festive food and plenty of uninterrupted telly. He claimed the family member served turkey slices so thin you could actually see through them, and their house was permanently chilly. We know of several people this applies to today and, in one house, we sit there with our coats on for the duration of our (few and far between) visits.  This particular friend has their heating on for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, in the winter, and that’s it, regardless of outside temperatures and visitors. They spend most of their time upstairs, reading in bed to keep warm. It’s a miserable existence and I don’t see the point of it. They are very comfortably off and, as my dad used to say: “You can’t take it with you.” The OH once said to their face: “What are you saving it FOR?! You’ll be the richest person in the graveyard.” They had no answer to that.

Many people, like me, suffer from FOMO – fear of missing out – especially at this time of year. At least we can all take some small comfort from knowing that everyone is in the same boat, this year. Others are most definitely not having a better time of it than we are – if, indeed, they ever were!  

While out shopping this week, I noted long queues building up outside the supermarkets again and there were no eggs, flour, or toilet rolls to be had in one particular branch. Shades of deja-vu. Alongside the reduced-price Christmas leftovers, which include tins and boxes of festive sweets and chocolates, Easter eggs have started rolling back on to the shelves. It’s ridiculous.  After the excesses of Christmas, who wants to be thinking of even more chocolate?! However, you’ve got to admire their optimism.  Perhaps they are just trying to reassure us that, by the time Easter comes around, things will be a lot better than they are right now. On that cheerful note, I’d like to wish you all a very happy, safe and healthy Easter! 

Author: Hampton Caught

The rants and ramblings of an ex Deputy Fiction Editor of Woman's Weekly magazine.

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