Christmas Eve -

Love is in the air…

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The text message came through at 11.30, ruining my attempts at bedding down for some sleep. “Oh no,” I thought, remembering the incessant phone calls at 1.30am the night before. “It’s another drunken message from Simon H telling me how much he’s sunk down his throat.” I blearily reached across to my bedside table and tried to focus on the message. It was from Elli.
“I’m engaged!”, it read to my utter astonishment. “Yes, really!” she finished, to counter any accusations that she might be joking. That woke me up with a start, and I immediately tried calling her. In fact, I tried for the next thirty minutes, but her phone reception defeated my chances of a congratulatory message.
So, this morning, I ambled into work (yep, I know its a shocker during the Christmas holidays…) and decided to forward Elli’s message to the rest of my phonebook and then call her. As I was tapping away at the phone keypad, my colleague Kate came in the office. “Oh, how are you, nice Christmas?” I asked innocently. “YES!” she replied, and immediately flashed her hands are me. In fact, what was actually flashing was the enormous rock on her engagement finger. “Dear God!” I said, “Not you as well!”. Any available females in the office immediately crowded round her and cooed at the ring while Kate recounted how, where and when her fiance asked her to marry him.
I’d barely recovered from the shock before I pressed “Send” on my Elli-based text message. Almost immediately, a text message came back, this time from David B, who I’d only seen on Christmas Eve. And this message, my dear readers, was the kicker – the one that sent me into a spin.
“Strange story,” the message said. “So did I.”
So, two close friends and a colleague have all got engaged in the last couple of days. Serious, hearty congratulations obviously goes to all of them (I give good rates for Best Man speeches, by the way) – but seriously, is someone trying to tell me something?

Stuffed as a Turkey

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Merry Christmas all – did you get so many good presents that you’ve no idea which to use first? Did you eat so much that your overriding resolution is to diet as soon as possible? Did you drink so much that your head is pleading for mercy? If yes, your last three days were striking similar to mine and you are now researching the effects of garcinia cambogia. Christmas Eve was filled with a visit to Annie’s house and then Wetherspoons in Haslemere with Elli, Mel, David B and others. Michelle, meanwhile was getting on very well with her sister, friends and no small amount of alcohol in Guildford.
Christmas morning was filled with excited ripping open of presents, although Michelle needed a bit more sleep and a couple more paracetamol before she was fully excited about her presents. Christmas afternoon was spent giving presents to parents and relatives, listening to the Queen’s speech (and slagging off Jamie Oliver for giving an Alternative Message), eating turkey and cake and generally catching up with family news. One downside to living away from my mum and dad means there’s always news to catch up on…
And then there was the visit to Nick’s house on Boxing Day. His girlfriend Sarah’s parents are well-known for their enormous spreads at special occasions, and this turned out to be no different. We started by exchanging presents – and were immediately shamed by Nick and Sarah’s generosity. Then it was the turn of our second Christmas lunch. It was a whopper. The plate was heaving with turkey, sprouts, carrots, mashed potatoes, roast potato, stuffing and many more things, piled high. Even more astonishingly, I almost finished it, albeit after thirty minutes of munching…
Michelle, bless her, has been working solidly all through Christmas, and the day after Boxing Day was no exception. Actually, it was a slight exception – she was due to start work at 4.30am. Next‘s Christmas sales are renowned, and as she works there as Office Manager she needed to be there early to count the money. Amazingly, as we arrived at the store at 4.15am in temperatures on -2c, there were PEOPLE QUEUEING. I’ve no idea why they thought getting up early in the freezing cold after a weekend of debauchery was a good idea… although it cheered me up to point and laugh as I drove by in my warm car.
And finally yesterday was Michelle’s family Christmas. Another truckload of delicious food and millions (well, three) children running around having Christmas-based fun. We were all exhausted by the end, and as we arrived him Michelle crept into bed. Even I didn’t manage to stay up much past eleven.
So, I’m fit to burst. In an attempt to eat less and more healthily, I’ve brought my breakfast cereal in to have for lunch. unfortunately, there’s a large box of Terry’s Chocolate Orange Sensations on my desk – and it would be a waste to ignore them, wouldn’t it?

A few words before I leave home

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It kinda hit tonight.
In the past few days, I’ve been in a haze of busyness, running around and putting everything movable into large boxes, readying them for the move to Guildford. Plans (well, “ideas” at any rate) have been formed for the first few days in our new house, and companies have been informed of the new address. All, in short, is sorted, and tomorrow is the big day.
But as I look around me tonight – at all my worldly possessions, piled high and battling to escape from their cardboard prisons – it’s suddenly sunk in. I’m leaving behind my formative years with my parents – the happy childhood, the uninhibited teenage years and the challenging responsibility of the last half-decade. No longer will my mother wish me goodnight, hoping “that the bugs don’t bite”. No longer will I see my dad come home full of the joys of life, making us laugh despite the rocky road life has dealt him and my mum in recent times. Never again will my mother be able to fuss over and protect me – and never again will my dad try his best to show me the way of life over a lavish meal cooked as only my mother can.
These and many, many others, are the things I shall miss. But I have a load of memories of life growing up. I distinctly remember one Christmas Eve, I was eagerly waiting for Santa to appear. My mum had helped me fill the sherry glasses by the chimney (for some reason, Santa needed a lot of sherry) and I had crept into bed, losing the will to stay awake a few minutes later. The morning came, and miraculously the huge Christmas stocking was by the end of the bed, full of presents. I woke my parents up and rushed downstairs to find something that made me more excited than ever – several perfect snowy footprints leading from the chimney to the stairs, all expertly formed and evidently from Santa’s snowy foot. Although I now know the effort dad had gone to the create the perfect Christmas – the snow was in fact polystyrene, can you believe – the moment made that and many further Christmasses all the more real and magical for me.
Another time, I was looking for a cricket ball and my dad had an idea. He had won a special cricket ball at his school, which had been given for some magnificent cricketing feat and he was very proud of it, keeping it up until that day. And yet here he was, prising off the plaque commemorating his great feat – just so that his son could play cricket for the day.
And all the while, in amongst these many amazing memories of my dad, I have countless wonderful memories of my mother, comforting and caring, being the mum she was born to be, while my dad was out earning a crust. She managed to have an in-built common sense that allowed me to always be looked after and sent in the right direction. After I left home for the first time to go to boarding school, she cried for three days, wishing I could come home but knowing it was for the best. Even to this day, it seems as if she has so much love to give, but not enough time to give it. She really was born to be a mother, and I couldn’t have wished for more.
I suppose all children think that their parents are the best in the world – but despite the ups and the downs, I can safely say that my parents, to me, are the best in the world. There are so many more memories that I could describe, but I’d be here for a goodly while. I know that they have always done their best for me, put me first, worried, comforted and helped – even if as a rebellious teenager I couldn’t always see it.
So this post is for my parents. Thank you both for everything. I know that in moving away to an exciting new stage in my life things will be different – but I shall always be there to help, as you have helped me.
And, let’s face it, I’ll only be 26 miles down the road…