It’s been incredibly busy around the village lately as we all catch up on Christmas shopping and the purchase of sufficient alcohol to sink the proverbial battleship, but we have now lapsed into a mulled haze of pleasantries and goodwill. Work is officially over for the OH this afternoon but he’s managed to arrange to work from home today, which is just as well as we went carol-singing round the village last night. This is generally a very pleasant evening out, aided by the unseasonably mild weather which meant we were all sweating buckets by the time we got into the pub that was our final stop, but no-one seemed to either notice or mind.
There was only one downer in the entire evening, in fact. Most houses in the village now have at least a wreath on the door or a visible Christmas tree lit up in the front room, but quite a few have illuminated icicles, rippling snow-flurries or even Santas in their sleighs. I hate to think what the electricity bill is for some people as not everyone fitted solar panels... However, one house had a wide array of lights attached to its front and planted in the garden but none had been switched on.
“Oh look,” I said to one of my fellow singers, “they’ve realised how much electricity they’re using and have decided not to turn them on yet.”
“Didn’t you know? That’s Janet and Brian’s house.” I shrugged in my ignorance, so my informant continued, “She was pregnant with twins? Tall woman with blonde hair?”
I thought back over some of the larger people I had seen around the village lately and could faintly recall an attractive blonde who was clearly finding pregnancy very tiring. “Has she had them then?”
“They weren’t due until January 17th, but she went into labour last week. Both babies went into a special care unit but one of them didn’t survive and it’s touch and go for the other. They’re probably at the hospital.”
It was sobering information through all the merriment. How does anyone celebrate Christmas under such circumstances? It made the words of ‘Away in a Manger’ far more poignant when we sang it at the next stop, whatever one’s religious beliefs. And I had a chat with our ‘head chorister’, Les. He was going to donate the money we collected to the Parkinson’s Society for family reasons, but now it’s all going to go to Sands, a support group for people like Janet and Brian. And I shall pop a note through their door this afternoon, asking if they want to drop in for some cake when they get back from the hospital. I can’t imagine they will, but the least I can do is offer. Merry Christmas indeed.