I am very fortunate that I have lived almost 59 years before having a bad Christmas.
The buildup and preparations for the big day were wonderful and full of the spirit, so that is coming back to me now in the aftermath, however this 25th of December put me into an emotional tailspin.
It was the first Christmas I have ever worked and I thought I was prepared for it. The hotel is usually only half full with groups of pensioners staying for three to four days and physically not demanding. However it went rather sour quickly -- upon asking what time lunch was that day we were told by our supervisor that there was none.
What? You're joking surely -- we were still to be working a full day, and it was, well, Christmas. As well the coffee vending machine, which serves excellent drinks, was dry on Christmas Eve and stayed that way until the 28th of December. After a frenzied time the supervisor informed us that someone in the kitchen fried (overfried) bacon and we could have bacon sandwiches on the gummy white bread of which the British are overly fond.
An hour after finishing a rushed meal we were cleaning rooms and informed that, in fact, we were supposed to be only doing the 'bare basics' in order to leave extra early. This may sound as if it should have been good news, and may have been if we had been told before beginning our shift. At this point it made no sense that we had stopped for a meal, and the joy of doing of a job well done and at a rare, sensible pace was stripped away.
I cried walking through empty streets on the way home and as I passed through the University of Cardiff campus was rescued from a full-blown sense of isolation by a blessedly-timed Christmas call from my brother Kevin and his family. So wonderful and so wonderfully timed. It did not escape me that if I had still been at work I would have missed the call.
On Boxing Day nothing opened. As Christmas fell on a Sunday, the bank holidays were extended until Tuesday, so it wasn't until Wednesday that people began to appear on the streets and stores opened, albeit with half-empty shelves. I don't remember last Christmas being so desolate and quiet, though I was probably just happily relaxing in my flat. It was actually worse, I think, because I was out and about and no one else was.
I am very glad life is getting back to normal again. I work New Year's Day, cleaning up hotel rooms after the big celebration for my first time, and will be even gladder once the New Year is in full swing. Last year I attended the fireworks at City Hall which was a wonderful gathering and great way to begin the New Year. I would like to attend it again this year but not if it is raining, and at this time the forecast is predicting unholy weather.
On the up side I have been bathing myself in whatever uplifting films or programs have passed the TV screen. One of my all-time favourites, The Wizard of Oz, appeared on the bleak British landscape just in time for me as it did for Dorothy of Kansas. The Muppet Christmas was one of the rare versions of Dickens' classic Christmas Carol programmed for Yuletide viewing this year or last. In fact it has been difficult to find Christmas-related films at all and I think I won't see It's A Wonderful Life or Shirley Temple's Heidi until I return to N. America.
I have viewed five Rocky's on five consecutive nights, and though hardly what I would call holiday fare, have come away with an abiding respect for Mr. Sylvester Stallone and his many talents.
And, I have discovered two gems. Son of Rambow, a 2007 British movie about two young boys making a film, is an absolute delight filled with rare, innocent, true performances by the two young leads and universal truths wisely observed by the screenwriter and director. Brilliant. Also on the feel-good front and a prop person's delight is the recent BBC adaptation of The Borrowers.