The Christmas Room

I pass it when I walk along North Road and then up past the back of Alexandra Hall. It’s one of a row of small, thin three-storey terraced houses that follow the bend up the hill to the golf course, I think. They look like student houses, there are empty bottles in the windows and curtains hang awry. I see this particular house from the bottom of the hill. It is lit up. A whole array of lights have been hung in the window of the ground floor front room. They look like a net of blue and green and white decorative lights. They’ve been on since the beginning of November, flashing comfortingly in the still thick dark. I am glad for them. Grateful even. Yesterday I peered into the room, beyond the curtain of lights. There was a lit Christmas tree in the corner, and I believe I saw parcels too. And there were fluorescent snowflake shapes also stuck to the window. The room glowed with festiveness. A boon. I get it. I understand it. And a part of me longs to put up our lights too, though they are modest enough, just for the fillip. But I will wait. Ever the one to hold back of pleasure – saving it, Flora-style as we always say.

I forgot to call her. Yesterday was an itchy, troubled, scratchy sort of day. First the nurse and all that I associate with encountering traditional medicine. She talked of my ‘history’ affecting how I would heal. I went about my finger. I felt a little silly. She was kind, gentle but even so. It may always be a little swollen and red, she said. Fair enough, perfection is no longer doable. Then I found myself telling her about the loss of fluid, a stone, I said. Then I regretted it. How, what has changed? she asked. Then I told of her the lymph drainage and immediately wished I hadn’t. It’s like oil and water – the traditional and the alternative don’t mix. And I am so firmly in the latter camp. I felt skinned. Skinless. Then there was the stuff about the new camera and all my fears and paranoia that I bring to the job. All me. Not them. I wept. He understood. You’re only human, he said. So kind. Then I discovered that the tape I’d made of our seminar is too quiet. Ugh. I fail and trip up daily. Ah, me.

I remembered I hadn’t called her at lunchtime and did so. But not for long. It was the wrong time. So I passed on my apologies and said I would speak to her next Friday. She sounded buoyant. I went, she said. I went to the dinner. It took a little while to remember. Of, course, and she’d been so nervous, hadn’t wanted to go but her daughter had arranged a car. I had a nice time, she said. I’m so pleased. So proud of her. It is enough. Such small victories to some are huge.