One of my earliest memories is waking up in the back seat of my father’s car, groggy and dazed, hearing my mother lightly saying, “Wake up, we’re at nanna’s.” A strange coincidence then that when we arrived home on Boxing Day, my wife said those words to me, lilting and teasing, upon our arrival at our home. We’d gone for a trip down to Nelligan, to be with her family, on Christmas, something we hadn’t done once in the nine years we’ve been married. It was a fair thing to do. Fox had made concessions for my family, so many years in a row – and she wanted to be with, and be around her family.
Christmas Eve, away from my family. Presents then. No shouting over one another. Christmas Day, in a strange home, no presents, no gifts from my mother and father. Trees, but not her trees. No bickering about British cricketers, no predictions about the Boxing Day test. Home again, to a message from my mother that they were too tired to see me.
Today, we had lunch with my aunt, my uncle, my dad and my mum. We went to Nanna’s home for a little visit, to see how it’s changed. The white painted walls. The stripped floors. The bunk-beds missing, the pot plants torn up, the lemon tree where Montey was buried no more than a missing stump on the lawn. The tree stump that I’d played one, the stump that was once a tree I’d climbed. The fences that I’d used to peek over to talk to Dobbin’s kids. The empty patch of barer grass where a shed had once stood, before it rotted and fell apart in disuse because Nanna couldn’t take care of it forever. The new lights that meant the place didn’t look too dingy to read. At the time I was fine. Right now I want to break down and bawl.
Somehow, everything that made Christmas Christmas didn’t happen this year. That’s fine, some times we make adjustments for our family. I’m okay with that. I really am. I just wish that it hadn’t been this one. I wish that my first Christmas where we didn’t all go to Nanna’s had still been one where I didn’t feel like my family didn’t have time for me. I wish I’d been able to sit in front of them with presents from strangers, and tell them stories.
I wanted to tell them about my friend Kuno, who had made silly drawings on the whiteboard at work referencing 1970s song lyrics, and how that had scared his boss. I wanted to tell them about Mispy, the sweet boy who had made a robot using my words. I wanted to tell them about Melissa, the writer and tech. I wanted to tell them about why I had brought a penguin mug I was insisting on drinking out of. I wanted to laugh and tell my dad about how I kept mistaking Shuffles for a programmer, even though he was no such thing, and how he was learning how unimportant high school was. I wanted to… I wanted to talk to my nanna about her time in Ireland and about the cute Irish girl I’d met this year, and the sweet Australian girl who’d fallen in love with her. I wanted to learn how to speak more swears in Welsh so I could use them in my story next year. I wanted to hold Fox’s hand and feel that little dull ache inside as someone, inevitably, asked about Tank and Amos.
This year fucking sucks.
Something else in the morning, honest.