I’m surprisingly calm. Relaxed. Chilled. I want to take my time doing things: clearing things away; getting jobs done; striving for an empty slate. Thinking about the future and how things might be even better. It’s only the second day of the holiday and already it feels like New Years’ Eve long before its even Christmas Eve.
I mentioned to Simon the other night that I reckoned I knew why Christmas was so important to both of us. That in making our preparations every year, our annual tradition was about somehow recreating a Christmas from our past. Was it something we’d experienced as kids? Or was it – as I still reckon it is – us recreating the first Christmas we spent together?
I’ll get back to you on that one. It needs a bit more thought – and probably a longer blog post. The bottom line is that there’s a tricky balance to be struck between detailing the tasks which need to be done ahead of the celebrations and not detailing too many they can’t be done. The goal is to reach a sense of completion a few days before we all hunker down for the festivities. There needs to be a moment of calmness.
Household tasks are pretty much finished off. A massive Sainsbury’s delivery at 11.00am today has been packed away. And, bar one or two straggler-deliveries, all of the presents are now wrapped. Gifts for friends, intended to supplement those Simon’s already purchased, arrived late this afternoon. I only knew they’d arrived because I received an email from Amazon to say the parcel had been left with one of our neighbours, Pete.
I’ve never spoken to Pete before. Didn’t even realise that was his name before this evening. Only seem him on the street early in the morning when he’s getting his son off to school in the car. The times I’ve passed him on the street and wished he’d look in my direction. I’ve wanted to say hello – always felt like there was a brick wall in front of me anticipating my route and blocking his view. Was he choosing to ignore me? Why couldn’t he just look up from what was preoccupying him and say hello? Was he doing what nearly every TV producer I’ve ever met has done when I’ve passed them in the corridor and work, and just looking straight through me? I’d never been sure, but had – predictably – assumed it was him deliberately ignoring me.
I strode up the steps and pressed the button for the doorbell. A small lady with glasses I’d never seen before answered the door. “Well, you’re obviously not Pete,” I said. “No,” she replied, “who are you?” I extended a hand and shook hers with it. “I’m Jon, from over the road,” pointing at our house. “Oh yes, the one with all the lights.” Joshed with her a little about her comment, deploying a splash of self-deprecation.
Seconds later, Pete comes to the door. We shake hands. I pass comment about how we often pass each other in the street but never say hello, “probably because its WAY too early to actually say hello at that time of day.” He laughs. Suddenly they’re real people. I walk away with a parcel under my arm, considerably more relieved than I did before I rang the doorbell.