Deck the halls

You know how sometimes a tune gets stuck in your mind? I’ve been whistling Deck the halls with boughs of holly all day. Not that I have halls; plenty of holly outside, but no berries. However, I have bought a tree, and I’ve brought it into the house and put it in its pot all by myself, and it hasn’t fallen over. Yet. I’ll wait for my daughter to come home (any minute) and perhaps we’ll decorate it together. I’ll leave the staff to do the halls.

The week started with a difficult little job (not writing the Christmas cards – that’s an easy big job). A man sent me some poems; he must have got my contact details somewhere because of the Poetry on Loan connection. He wnated to know how he could get them published. What should I say? The fact is that no-one, absolutely no-one, would publish his poems, except vanity publishers. He was obviously very pleased with them, but they just were not the sort of stuff that people publish. And, in the end, that’s what I told him. I suggested that instead he should try slams or open-mike sessions, and try reading them to an audience, but of course everyone wants their own slim volume. I’m just the same, so I can’t criticize.

And the guys in the prison want their book too, so this week I’ve made one. They decided what it was to be called, and what should go on the cover, and what should be put in and left out, and roughly the sequence of the poems; all I had to do was sort it out. This takes ages, but it is nice to hold the finished product – a proper book! I even drew the picture for the front cover, because I couldn’t find an appropriate picture anywhere else. They are all so appreciative, though, that it’s all worth it. Even the members of my other group were fully engaged this week.

Financially it’s been a good week, too – two payments that I’ve been waiting for for ages have finally arrived. They (plus a lot more) have gone straight out again to pay my income tax bill, but that’s ok; I’m only taxed on what I’ve earned so I have no grounds for complaint. One of the late payments was from a local authority, whose finance department had managed to lose everything concerned with my invoice twice. It makes you wonder how they manage to keep things going at all.

And the evaluation report I have to write is coming on, and will certainly be finished by the New Year; and I should finish wrapping presents tomorrow; and – gosh! isn’t everything positive? Yet my thoughts keep turning to a friend of mine whose son went missing on Christmas Eve last year, and whose body was found some weeks later in the Thames. This Christmas will be desperately hard for her. I know from my own experience that things do get better, that you reach an accommodation, a way of living with it all, but to start with this all seems much too far away.

And now, I’ve got Christmas with my kids to look forward to. I usually try to do some decorating – the painting sort, that is – over Christmas, but I don’t know if I’ll have time this year. It’s not the painting that takes the time, it’s  clearing the decks first that’s the problem. Oh. Now I’ve started whistling again – tra-la-la-la-laaa, la-la-la-la.

May your Christmas bring you everything you hope for.

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