I am sitting here, regarding my 2020 Christmas tree in all its, well, overflowing-ness. Is there even such a word? if not I have just invented it. Feel free to use it over the Christmas period.
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters arrived yesterday, in preparation for a long trip into Deepest Kent for a funeral today (of which more later.) I am, indeed, fortunate that in
a late (and somewhat hidden in the small print) addition to the government rules on “support bubbles” lone carers like me, who care for a disabled person in their own home, are now allowed to form a supportive bubble with another household, something
that’s only been allowed in the past for singles. I immediately invited the Youngest of the Darling Daughters into our “bubble”. I’m not sure how long she had to think about accepting my invitation, knowing, as I do, that I am quite
Yesterday afternoon we (she) clambered up into the loft to fetch down the Christmas tree and decorations so that we could spend a happy time
assembling them and introducing even more of a festive spirit into our home. It is always so, so much more fun decorating a Christmas tree in company. It would have been even merrier had we been able to play Christmas music while we worked, but Mr B was watching
TV so we decked the halls to the accompaniment of “Pointless”. It would have been, well, pointless to complain..
Now I have had time to sit down and
inspect the tree, I can see that in my eagerness to cherish every single ornament, every bauble, every decoration passed down from Christmas Past to Christmas Present, I have front-loaded the Christmas tree. Viewed from the front, it is a riot of colour -
almost every bauble a memory of someone or something. Here is the reminder of Faris the Rascal’s first Christmas, decorated with his foot prints. Here are the wooden souvenirs from Bethlehem. Here is the beautiful glass fox, made by god-daughter Pip
in 2016. And atop the tree the cardboard reindeer, designed and created by my eldest grandson Jack, way back in 2007.
There is also an angel and a bell,
made out of pastry by Jack and sister Hazel when they were little which, after surviving intact since 2006, have emerged from the loft decidedly soggy. I am trying to harden them up on the radiator but their chances of survival are not great. Oh, for goodness
sake, I am talking about the decorations, not Jack and Hazel...
The trouble is, viewed from the sides, or the back, my Christmas tree is almost bare of decoration.
It is, quite simply, front-loaded...
Then today it was the funeral of a dear, dear friend of almost fifty years. It was a long two hours drive there, and another
two hours back but we were so glad we went, my daughter and I. For not only was he a dear friend but Barrie was a man who front-loaded his life with the same vigour and enthusiasm that I front-loaded my Christmas tree. As his son, Spencer, read the heart-felt
eulogy he had written, he reminded us of everything his father had contributed over the 91 years of his life. The hard-working businessman; the loving husband and father; the man who retired not for a leisurely life but to dedicate his time and ceaseless efforts
to the service of others. A volunteer par excellence. A constant advocate for those who couldn’t argue their own case for help. A man who cared passionately about the village community where he took his lovely wife Lorna to live on their marriage so
many years ago.
In any other year, the church would have been full to bursting with people remembering what he meant to them. We were so honoured to be among the
thirty guests invited and touched when the celebrant mentioned Mr B as a dear friend who would have definitely been there had he been able.
village centre earlier, we had found Friendship Benches which hadn’t been there when we lived in the village. One of the many inspiring quotations on the benches read: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will
never sit in.”
It seemed such an apt observation for our dear friend Barrie who never stopped finding ways to help others right up to the end of his
long, front-loaded life.