It was inevitable that this Christmas was going to be different from any other.
Before Ruth was born Enfys and I used to split our time over Christmas between her parents in Surry and mine in Salford, travelling from one to the other on Boxing Day morning, alternating each year. Mostly we travelled by car along with most of the rest of the motoring public. One year, it must have been 1972, we decided we had had enough of high-risk driving up snow and ice-bound motorways and opted instead to travel by public transport. Boxing Day morning we caught a coach in London’s Victoria Bus Station to travel North and within 20 minutes of setting off the journey ground to a halt when the coach was struck in the side by a carful of young idiots shooting a red light. Strange how the memory stores and recalls these things, but I clearly remember the car being a dark blue Triumph 1500 and four stupified male youths getting out and wandering around the road.
The following October Ruth was born and we declared UDI. From now on we would have Christmas in our own house and parents were welcome to come and stay if they wished. And so Christmas Day and Boxing Day became completely oriented around our own family with the addition of a few friends and other members of the family. We developed a pattern to the day which gave a kind of stability to what can be a very fraught time. This pattern was interrupted a couple of times when we all decamped up to Stockport for Christmas at Ruth and Tim’s.
Last Christmas, without Enfys, we again all gathered at our house. It was not the same, never will be again, but in a muted way in was good.
This year it’s completely different. For a start, I’m in Canada, further away from home than I have been before. I’m with Ruth and Tim so the ‘family’ context is still there but the pattern of the day was completely different. The major difference was that after contacting David and the family first thing in the morning (mid afternoon GMT) we went skiing. Buses, ski lifts, Ski Lodge restaurants etc were all operating as any other day in contrast to at home where everything shuts down.
There were nowhere near as many people in the pistes as on Christmas Eve and the slopes had been well groomed which made for very enjoyable skiing. We skied until about 12.30 and then caught the first bus back to Banff.
Having put the turkey in the oven we then settled down to home-made mince pies and coffee before opening presents. And then we had Christmas dinner. As the cliché has it , turkey and all the trimmings’. Very enjoyable.
Verdict compared to other Christmas’s? No verdict. Christmas nor any other time can be the same for me without Enfys. But there is no point trying to live in the past or compare with the past. it is good to be here with Ruth and Tim. It’s been good to do something different. And definitely something different planned for Boxing Day thanks to a great present from Ruth and Tim. More about that tomorrow.