Well, except for that time in the country when they'd just moved into a new house. They'd planted the tree in the posh dining room and even got a
video of it. A video enhanced by the dog's tail as it went wagging past. That little sweetheart never wanted to be left out of anything. After filming
they'd decided to go outside to see how the tree looked through the window. It was getting very late and the village was still, the air crisp. A
beautiful Christmas Eve. Except...
Carol went the long way round to the front of the house but her partner decided to take a short cut through the garage, knowing that the door was
faulty. Sure enough, as he tried to raise it, it slipped partially out of its frame and he had no option but to just stand there holding it in place.
Carol had stood there on the pavement wondering where he was until she heard the complaints and profanity coming from behind the garage door. She'd
tried to help from her side but the door was too heavy and she wasn't tall enough to be of much use. Something told her to stay put and wait and so
It wasn't long before a very nice, respectable young couple walked by, obviously on the way to the Midnight Service at the church just up the road.
The man was (thankfully) very tall and volunteered to help when she explained the problem. It's what nice, respectable people do.
Unfortunately, her partner wasn't very nice sometimes and could be far from respectable. He'd continued to cuss and swear even knowing that there were
people outside, one of whom was willing to help him and the other who was prepared to wait for her young man on their way to church.
Carol had noticed the uncomfortable looks exchanged between them and begged her partner to be quiet and mind his language. He toned things down a bit
after more complaining but she still had to stay there, completely embarrassed, until the job was done. And him! He could just stay behind the garage
door and not face the people he'd offended when they'd offered help.
Back in the present, the carol singing was going from strength to strength. People were enjoying what had turned into a real treat and the kids were
being offered sweets and biscuits which, Carol noted, they were grateful for.
She thought back to her last Christmas with her partner. They'd spent an enjoyable Christmas Eve together watching films on TV. She hadn't seen him
for several months and was glad of the company. It made a big difference after being on her own for so long. She'd been looking forward to doing the
same thing on Christmas afternoon, watch some old twaddle on TV, chat a bit, be companionable, set herself up for the next few months when she'd be
What happened? Her partner, sober that year thank goodness, had decided to spend the afternoon cleaning the oven. Carol had the TV on, told him the
film had started and waited for him to join her. But he never came, he'd stayed out there in the kitchen for the whole time the film was on.
She'd tried to look on the bright side, after all she was getting a clean oven. She never used it, she never cooked and it was too complicated for her
anyway. The only reason it needed cleaning was because he'd used it. So why complain? Well, because it buggered Christmas when her only treat was
going to be spending the afternoon together. She hadn't expected presents, or asked to put up the tree. The special Christmas lunch had just consisted
of roast potatoes and stuffing so it was hardly pushing the boat out.
Still, she'd managed to come to terms with it and it might not have rankled any more. Except somehow it cropped up in their conversation later.
'Oh, yes' he'd said 'I knew you were upset...'
So he'd known, even though she hadn't complained, and yet he'd gone ahead with it anyway.
It was a small thing, of course, but all the small things added up. Yet more straws for the camel's back.
By the time their relationship had hit its death throes Carol was more emotionally numb than she'd ever been before. She wondered sometimes if she was
in some sort of permanent state of shock. She rode out so many crises, of his making, with not even a flicker of something that could be regarded as a
They were at the last house now, Jack Frost had been nipping at the kids a bit and they were glad to huddle near a doorway with some warmth flooding
outside from the house,
She looked at one little boy who was singing his heart out to the point that he'd started to glow. Still so young, and resilient enough to throw
himself into something good and forget for a little while whatever his own personal tribulations may be.
She exchanged a fond smile with Marjorie as she nodded towards the boy. Marjorie whispered 'He's going without his dinner to be out here tonight.
Nobody at home will save him anything, but he so wanted to join in'.
First pestilence, then disease, now famine. Perfectly biblical... She just hoped the kids would keep behaving well and not end up in a scrap before
After the singing they all trooped down the long drive from the house, cheerful and making footprints in the fine layer of snow. Carol hesitated and
then asked 'Would anyone like a bag of chips on the way home?' The kids looked at her, round eyed, some falling over themselves to say 'Yes please,
Miss' and others hanging back a bit, she hoped due to shyness and not because they'd got used to so many broken promises that they now believed good
things might not come to pass.
'You're a good egg' said Marjorie 'I knew this would bring you out of yourself'.
'And I bet you think you've done me a favour' thought Carol, who kept to herself on the way to the chip shop as she let the awful thought sink in:
These little carollers had touched her in such a way that she'd realised she still had a heart, after all. It wasn't as dead as she'd suspected and,
that being the case, she'd become vulnerable again to exactly the sort of pains and pleasures that had numbed it in the first place. And that was the
scariest experience she was likely to have this Christmas.
edit on 8-12-2016 by berenike because: (no reason given)