I’ve wrapped my first pressies for The ‘C’ Word, and we’re still in November (the parcel to Down Under doesn’t count because I always send that early.)
Truth be told we are planning a surprise visit South, so have got everything together.
I would point out that I have not bought a mountain of gifts for the family. Not only can we not afford to, but as I hadn’t had a single thank you from any of them for over a decade, I stopped sending them stuff four years ago. To reflect the pending Season’s Greetings though, I have got a big tin of posh biscuits with a label ‘To the Family’ on it for the buffet my sister provides on Boxing day (not that we had ever been invited, even when we lived only 5 miles away).
It will be as long a day for us as Christmas Eve is for the bearded red suited guy, as our plan is to leave around 4.00am for the 250 mile journey and share the driving. We’ll give the dog a short walk before the bulk of the journey which will take between 5 and 6 hours plus stops for potty breaks. I anticipate our visit will last 2 – 3, and we will be back on the road by 2.00pm. Food will be take out or a supermarket all day breakfast, though we shall take a flask for us plus food and water for the dog. Her blanket will be put on the back seat, though her favoured position is sitting in the middle of it, eyes forward, with her nose parallel to our shoulders. Hopefully though she’ll sleep some of the way.
I have heard nothing from anybody for over 6 weeks and what our reception will be is uncertain. Unannounced works well for us as if for any reason we have to change our plans, no-one important is going to be disappointed. This may seem selfish on our part, but we have our reasons. Firstly, it can’t be said that anyone had to go to any trouble or fork out extra expense on our behalf, and secondly we will be able to see how things are for ourselves rather than how people want us to see them. The kicker of course is that our ‘visitees’ may not be in. If that’s the case, it’s our fault for not checking first and we accept full responsibility.
Our last visit was not all that good. It was actually my birthday but that wasn’t why we went. Mum was 90 later that month and we’d bought her a special gift. Rather than rely on the post, we wanted to mark the occasion by surprising her and delivering it in person.
She was pleased to see us and put the kettle on. We were amused when Sis said we could only have one of the tiny cupcakes as she had counted them. Mum was suitably embarrassed so we suggested not having one at all if it was going to upset the balance. For some reason, our offer did not go down well. Mum opened her gift, and appeared to like it. Pleasantries were exchanged, though no-one wished me a happy birthday.
One of my nieces arrived for her daily visit with her 8 month old, thus giving us 4 generations in the same room. She said hello, and I got my first look at my great niece. No cuddles were offered, though a photo was promised, but as we had no fancy mobile phone to receive it (ours is a PAYG that makes and receives calls and texts only) , it would be sent by email. That was 2 years ago and I’m still waiting. By the time I get one, she’ll probably be old enough to vote, or retire. After the kettle had boiled again, lots of cake and conversation followed, but not in our direction. We were forgotten. Totally.
After an hour, we said our goodbyes and everyone seemed surprised someone else was talking. Seven and a half hours later due to heavy traffic and bad weather, we were back home. We settled down with mugs of tea and a massive slab of homemade cake. Oh, and Happy Birthday to Me.