Saturday, 29 December 2012

There will now be a short interlude

Well that was good.  First before Christmas a visit from older son, his fiance and our older grandson with older daughter and her three year old flying through to see them.  Older grandson has decorated the Christmas cake with Santa and two reindeer and carrots, possibly as well as I would have done.

A quiet Christmas Day with Ian and my father in law, although with a full trimmings turkey dinner, followed by three full and busy days as younger daughter, younger daughter's dog, older daughter and her husband and three year old son, and younger daughter's boyfriend all arrived.  The house was full, the cottage was full.  The house was so full that the big kitchen table was the only place where we could all sit down on chairs.

Henry the beautiful ginger cat demonstrated his only character flaw: an unstoppable tendency to attack dogs, even one as beautiful and generally unthreatening to the human eye as younger daughter's labrador.  To cope with this Henry goes to live in the wooden greenhouse for a couple of days with plenty of food and a comfy chair and intermittent human company in the form of me.  But he is not convinced so every coming and going through the kitchen door needs to be policed with someone on cat duty and someone on dog duty, apart from one occasion when younger daughter bursts in through the door with her dog crying "I was a catador!"  This proves to be a cat matador, or someone who, by judicious flourishing of the dog towel, encourages the charging cat, bent on getting in, to take a sidestep, and then whips smartly past.


Don't be too sorry for him: he is a dog seeking missile.

There is much food: three quarters of the turkey remain and a huge gammon is cooked to Nigella Lawson's recipe where it is simmered in coca cola.  I haven't done this before although people have been telling me for years how good it is.  I am not a fan of coke but this is a great use of it and I am now a total convert.  There are winter salads of red cabbage, carrot and granny smith apples.  There are roast potatoes to sink a battle ship.  There is coffee pavlova and Christmas cake and Christmas ice cream and quite a lot of cheese.  There is sparkling wine and white wine and beer.  There is that sense you have in a big family, even one where the children are long since adult, of sharing yourself out, making time to talk to everyone, time to play with the three year old and walk the dog and wonder if the ninety four year old is all right in his room by himself.  You send the three year old in and hear them both laughing and think how similar in some ways it is to be at the beginning and at the end of your life.

Younger daughter's boyfriend has been given a serious sky watching telescope and he puts it up and we wait for the clouds to clear and gaze at the full moon, think we have identified Jupiter and feel yet again how much we do not know.

Joseph, the three year old follows me round with a three year old's cheery determination, with a seamless stream of words.  We fill the bird feeders together and he watches chaffinches and tits and the occasional squirrel with delight.  "I don't have birds at my house, Grandma.  You have lots of birds.  We can share them?"



There is a trip to a cold, sunny bare beach where the dog catches a frisbee and the boy digs a hole and there is much running about on the sand.


And by last night everyone had gone.  This always works in the same way.  For an hour or so there is an aching hole and then slowly the pleasure in the quiet of the house, the time we once again have for each other, the ease of not needing to put food on the table for eight people at apparently five minute intervals, all seeps back.  My mother always said when we all went home for Christmas that it was lovely when we came and lovely when we went again.

So now there are a couple of quiet days and I am sitting in the shepherd's hut with the woodburner going, but younger son was working all over Christmas so quite a number of us are going down there for New Year and it will all start again!

44 comments:

  1. I loved what you said about sharing yourself, with my four children I get that totally, and although I think I'm a few years yet off becoming a Granny I'm looking forward to that too ... nothing beats having your own big tribe!

    Hope you have a wonderful New Year :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And to you too Annie. I was a bit taken aback when I first had a grandchild - definitely did not feel ready for that! Now I love it. It's a very special connection.

      Delete
  2. I don't like that aching hole.

    Sounds as if it's all been just right - or you've told us all the right bits!

    Have a good in-between rest . . . then have a wonderful 2013.

    Esther

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well some of both as you guess Esther - it has been just right and I have told you some of the just right bits. The aching hole is a necessary part of loving people I suppose and it doesn't last! Happy New year to you and your family too.

      Delete
  3. That sounds absolutely wonderful, all of it. Especially if there's wine and tasty things to relax with afterward! Wishing you a wonderful New Year to come.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same to you Marcheline! I hope you are feeling better and ready for the fray.

      Delete
    2. Aye! Am better today and heading back to the coal mines this afternoon... thanks! 8-)

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. 50 pence and free delivery to all parts of Europe!

      Delete
    2. Done.

      Please send cat to:

      Fido paradise Holiday Homes & cat food ltd,
      St Connard-sur-Tourbe
      France

      Delete
  5. I know that aching hole. Thank god it gets a bit smaller after a while. Sounds like you're having a lovely time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It doesn't last too long but it is a necessary price I suspect for all the rest of it!

      Delete
  6. It sounds as though you really did have a happy Christmas.
    I wish you a Happy New Year too Elizabeth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the same to you Cait. I hope you enjoy a peaceful and healthy 2013.

      Delete
  7. That beach looks wonderful but, yes, cold!
    I'm glad you had a good time Elizabeth, and a very Happy New Year to you all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beaches in winter are great though aren't they? Better than summer sometimes!

      Delete
  8. Sounds like a wonderful Christmas. We had a cat who attacked dogs. There was a public footpath through our property and if a dog put one paw in our place it was attacked. Some large dogs refused to use the path.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well I am glad it is not just us! I thought I could help him get over it using son's very calm and well trained dog a year or so ago. Not a chance! He just stalked her around the field and attacked her when she was lying down.

      Delete
  9. Another lovely blog read, Elizabeth. I love the bit where the very young and the very old have so much fun together and so much in common - wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very clear here - the old and the young. FIL has been able to make grandson laugh like a drain since J was about nine months old.

      Delete
  10. It sounds like you had a great Christmas and hopefully and wonderful New Year to come.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We did thank you. All the best to you too.

      Delete
  11. Sharing the birds, how lovely. Sounds like a good time was had by all. I love these all too fleeting quiet days between festivities, with the whirling dervish of Christmas gone, the house quiet again, before the new year and swift return to work and the usual chores.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I know all about that aching hole and yes it's lovely to have them all but lovely to enjoy the quiet when they've all gone. There was no dog in our house, the cat had the family to herself. But she gets naughty and excited. She loves having lots of people around especially children and they get her silly. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sounds like a lovely Christmas. I do know what you mean though about enjoying the peace and quiet once everyone has left:)

    ReplyDelete
  14. It sounds lovely, although I know what you mean about not being able to sit down and providing food for eight people every five minutes! I haven't done any laundry for two weeks because I haven't had anywhere to hang it. (At least, that's my excuse.) Have a wonderful New Year, Elizabeth xx

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love the picture of the 3 year old and the ninety four year old laughing together. I remember reading (possibly when I was still in school) a piece of writing where both the baby and the elderly man are spreading their arms to the sun. Have no recall of the author, although think it might be war related.
    I'll experience the "aching hole" next week when son and younger daughter catch ferry/plane to Yorkshire and Manchester. Life moves on. Have a lovely 2013.

    ReplyDelete
  16. a heart-warming Christmas story of family and feuding felines. Wishing I could have put a shepherd's hut on my letter to Santa. Happy New Year Elizabeth (hope you find a new tree to follow around like your grandson trails after you!)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Glad to read that you enjoyed the festivities Elizabeth. I had to smile when I saw the photo of Henry as he looks so familiar - his double regularly visits our garden. Wishing you all the very best for 2013 xxx

    ReplyDelete
  18. Really enjoy your blog. Love the bit about 3 year old and ninety four year old enjoying each others company. We have hosted many family Christmases and understand the happiness and the non stop catering! This year circustances have meant a very quiet Christmas and we have so missed family round us. My elderly Mum lives on the beautiful Welsh coast (unfortunately many miles away from us) and when our children were little we spent many happy hours playing on the beach whatever the weather. Then later, games of cricket and football with teenagers.
    Happy New Year to you all and keep writing.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ah, aching holes. Loving is surely to do with letting go and letting those wings fly free - and trusting enough to Believe that one,s children will return albeit with new lives of their own.

    Have to admit to quite like the peace when normal service is resumed!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think my comment just got Bloggered! I'd said that, like you, I feel very fortunate to be able to offer my very urban 4-year-old granddaughter as many birds as she needs, along with daily sightings of other forms of wildlife.
    And like you, I'm going to savour the silence after she, her mom, and her dad leave today, although we'll certainly miss them even as we enjoy the quiet. . .

    ReplyDelete
  21. You know that you would really miss Henry if you sold him to Mark In Mayenne for 50p! At least you have found a compromise and don't have to send him on holiday now.

    My mum always said it was lovely to see everyone arrive and just as lovely when they all left. We all understood and didn't take offence.

    Have a wonderful New Year. Let's all hope that 2013 is a bit dryer than 2012.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Such a lovely description of a family Christmas - and your pleasure in the memories as you sit by the stove in your little hut. I am enjoying the quiet - the peace - of Christmas week after the first, big days. It is for me, truly, the one time of complete quiet in the year and I treasure it.

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a lovely Christmas you had - have an equally good New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  24. What a beautiful, noisy, warm picture of togetherness you paint.
    I have just returned from Ireland and my parents had a Christmas houseful of 12 with 2 extra dogs as well as there own. It was a miracle that we all just fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. My family left as well as my brothers and then my 2 brothers' families arrived for New Year to ensure the house was bursting at the seams.....The 'hole' of missing them all is like an ache.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I hope you haven't been tempted to make the coca cola black bean soup that Nigella recommend you make from the ham leftovers. REEvolting. Or if you were, that you like it, of course... Happy new year.

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a wonderful description of a very English Christmas. Was most amused by the cat's antics!
    Came to you via Cait O'Connor.
    Your header photo is splendid --I do so miss the English countryside.
    I also have a three year old grandson who is the delight of my life --as is his little sister.
    Not convinced by the coke with ham idea--a nice honey glaze perhaps?
    Greetings from New York.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Doing a quick round of all my blogging friends to wish you a very happy and successful new year.

    Best wishes

    Mark

    ReplyDelete
  28. Dear Elizabeth,

    Few 'bloggers' move me emotionally as much as you do. Your words express a whole wealth of shared human experiences and sentiments wonderfully.

    Happy New Year to you and your big,bright,full life and family.

    Stephanie

    ReplyDelete
  29. Winter salad and coffee pavlova and sharing birds with a three year old boy. Just perfect.
    Happy new year, Elizabeth. I hope to see you again in 2013 x

    ReplyDelete
  30. hello Elizabeth, thank you very much for your comment on my blog, which spurred me over here to visit you. I am so happy to be here. I've enjoyed reading your recent posts and I am most taken with the ginger dog-attacking cat. Happy New Year! Claire

    ReplyDelete
  31. Surely, if it is a Nigella Lawson recipe that should be simpered in Coca-Cola?

    All the very best to you and your family for 2013.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Sounds just about right. We followed lovely quiet christmas with mad family new year but i didn't host which was weird and wonderful. Return delayed by lift getting poorly so got some quiet quality time with host too, but so glad to be home to my quiet little seaside garden-obsessed life. Hope your holes are soon faint memories again, the necessary part of loving people who live afar.

    ReplyDelete

I really love to know what you think and to have the chance to start a conversation. I always try to respond (although sometimes it might take me a day or two to get to you) either here or by visiting you.