This festive season has been all very odd and we will each have had different experiences, joys and sorrows, plans turned upside down, people and places missed. We fortunate ones will list the good things that happened in spite of disruption and more than likely find thinking space to count our blessings while acknowledging that it hasn’t been the same for everyone.
But, Oh Dear Me! I didn’t ever envisage that I would actually miss the turkey broth. Grazing through the fridge with that “what do I fancy” anticipation, taste bud hopes were dashed – that thick flavour-filled brew with the squishy bits of left over sprouts and a few stray chestnuts, in a mug, accompanied by my home made oatcakes, was what I wanted most as top quality sustenance on a cold day. There had been no turkey carcass to pick or put in the stock pot. Juicy prawns in a perfectly ripe avocado, doused with a couple of blobs of my lovely dressing seemed cold comfort. Not that they weren’t delicious, because of course they were, but because it brought home the need to accept that however comfortable and enjoyable the last few days had been, it’s nae been the same, and nor will it be the same for a while yet.
As Hogmanay approaches, mixed feelings creep in. They always do. I am certain that we all take time to reflect and time to look forward, which in turn can bring prickles to the eyes and a sense of eager anticipation of what a new year has in store. If I allowed myself the long trip down memory lane, I could recount many many people and places, some constant, some transient, some memorable for a particular reason or best forgotten for another. But that is the stuff of my memoire and of little interest to others who will have their own recollections. Don’t deny yourself a few minutes to recall your Hogmanays gone by and remember people and places, but stop if you begin to get too maudlin’, unless you feel a good greet wid dae ye good! I don’t apologise – if it happens, it’s been waiting to happen.
Traditions, superstitions, and because, well, just because it was and so it always will be – the cleaning, the cushion covers and the curtains. My Granny’s Hogmanay preparations involved cleaning. “Nae jist a dicht wi’ a damp cloot.” Everything was polished til it sparkled, cushion covers were changed and final touches made to curtains run-up on the sewing machine to replace any considered to “be weel past their best”. My current, well pared down version , after years of enjoying the privilege of situations which required only the issuing of instructions to people whose job it was to carry them out, means I feel duty bound to simply wipe a bit of polish on the furniture for the pleasure of the lavender wax smell and ensure I can see the bottom of the laundry basket. I have never questioned why, in the same way I never question the reasoning behind opening the door at five to midnight to let the auld year oot and the new year in when it’s time for the bells.
Can you remember the first time you were allowed to stay up for the bells, and that initiation to alcohol to make a toast? The indelible memory of the glaury yellowness of Advocaat, diluted to watery with lemonade lives with me still. As does the nightmare of having to give a kiss to anyone who came First Fittin’. I have no doubt I crept up to bed before the new year was half an hour in. I have a fond memory from later years, of my Mum, whose frequent response when asked what she would like, would be, “No, nae drink for me thanks, I’ll jist hae a Baileys.” You will have your own stories which still raise a smile.
There can be no discussion of a new year without the resolution topic being mentioned. Dredging up details of any 31.12.2019 resolutions is the type of brain exercise I have long abandoned, confident in the knowledge that whatever they were, they went the way of those made in previous years when real life took over by the second week of January. I did promise myself in March 2020, and I do my best to keep promises, that I would aim to continue to seek and find the positives to lockdown and abide by the rules. That has been honoured, for the very most part.
Sometimes, but not often, I ask myself whether my determination to be resolute in my approach to restrictions and avoiding risk, takes me very near to dogged intransigence. I say this because I am beginning to detect a reluctance to venture beyond the gate unless ensconced in my car. This may be for several reasons, but rising numbers do seem to present an acceptable excuse. Setting aside the likelihood that it is in sync with a lowered level of motivation to close the book and move from the comfy chair, or the belief that the box of chocolates propped within arms length might melt if left unattended, I wonder if the threat of coming into contact with the virus has become too close for comfort. New more virulent mutations, and potentially wider spread following Christmas gatherings make this lockdown seem a sensible course of action, but what’s to be done about the rule breakers? Here’s the rub – conflict of thought!
I had a very welcome, long overdue catch-up chat with a friend. We share similar views on many things and were in agreement that it is often the case when getting older, people either become more philosophical or more judgmental. We, of course, number amongst the philosophical while recognising that some we know are sliding down the slippery judgmental slope. We did both see the irony in our judgment of the judgmental! If there is any wriggle room here, I am inclined to judge the restriction rule breakers as lacking in ability to appreciate the consequences of their actions – that’s when I am being kind. If I let rip, I want to swear at their selfish, egocentric stupidity. There will be a happy medium. I hope they find it and mind it.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, or the farm, or fishing fleet, or factory or border, I will reserve expressing judgment on the “B” subject because I suspect worst fears will become reality. Today, the one in charge of the operations cautioned us that there may be a few minor bumps in the road. Tell that to the lorry drivers!!!
Never did I ever foresee when I made a tentative start to Hunkerin’ Doon that I would be posting on every Monday for months, then on the last Monday of the months, and still now on the last Monday of the year, but let’s face it, you dear people who keep reading, there is greater need than ever to keep hunkerin’ doon. Who’d have thought it would be for any reason other than winter weather?
We can’t halt time and 2020 is drawing to a close. The nostalgic can thread cocktail sticks with cubes of cheese and tinned pineapple, and set out the black bun and shortbread on the fancy cake plates, adorned with a paper lace doily. Or you may prefer to fast-forward through sharp or hazy images and sounds, of a history which has shaped your idea of what Hogmanay means to you and those you would want to be with. By way of continuing my resolve to find the positive, I remind myself that no matter how distanced physically from those I love, we can all look up at the same moon.
What will 2021 bring for us, or perhaps more pertinantly, what can we bring for ourselves at this time of new beginnings? Well, on my list there is a new calendar with witty cartoons on each page and I can mark that the window cleaner will come every fourth Friday. I will complete the driving licence and passport details in my new diary and enter an appointment with the dentist in March. I will suss out the gubbins lying dormant in my new laptop, just waiting to reveal life-enriching Apps. I know I am not alone in having a lengthening list of must read books, many already in a high wobbly pile. There is also a heap of untapped passion for many things I could become passionate about. All that and it’s only a few more days to wait for my 2021 yearly horoscope, which will entice me into finding out what the planets have in store for me this time next year – What’s not to love about a good horoscope! How could I forget to add the bright prospect of my turn coming round for a place in the vaccine queue?
But, Hogmany and the New Year are still a bit of time away, so in the meantime, I have attached a couple of links – first to something to soothe your breast if it is troubled, and next to make you laugh just for the hell of it.
I wish you a Happy New Year and All the Best for 2021. I’ll keep on with hunkerin’ doon for a wee while yet.