Betwixt and Between – A Holiday Tale by Bill Storie

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“It will soon be over Grandma.”

“I know. I should be happy and grateful and excited, but at this time of year, it’s difficult.”

“But you have me” she said.

“Oh that really does make it all worthwhile. When I was your age I also had a grandmother who loved her grandchildren. I remember those days, even though they are a long, long time ago.”

“I’d love to hear about them. Were they so different from today..?”

“Yes, they were different. To begin with, we didn’t have much money and presents at Christmas time were really very few, and even then, they were small gifts. A pair of socks, or mittens. Some chocolate maybe. And of course we always got the apple and the orange in our stockings.”

 

“Christmas was a very special time of year. We looked forward to it for months, and as it came closer the excitement and anticipation grew, even though we knew what we would probably get. My mother would bake for weeks beforehand it seemed. Of course, whether we would have a turkey or not was always the big question.”

“Was everyone poor Grandma, or was it just you?”   

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“Everyone was poor to be honest. There wasn’t much money to go around, but there certainly was much love. We would sit around the fireside and my grandfather would read Twas the Night Before Christmas. He had a lovely voice, and even though we knew every word, we loved to listen to him talk to us.”

“And while it always seemed like it would take weeks to arrive, in a flash, Christmas was over. I would always feel disappointed that it was over for another whole year. I would sulk in my room.”

“Do you still sulk in your room Grandma..?”

“I do.”

“Really..?”

“Christmas is a lovely time, it really is. But for some people it can be a very lonely and upsetting part of the year. Us old fogies still remember Christmas Past and wish we could bring back those days, and those family. Life was simple but hard. Life was predictable and slow-paced. We knew our neighbours, we had no iPads or cell phones. We didn’t even have television.”

“Oh Grandma you really WERE poor.”

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“Ha-ha. No-one had television, or microwave ovens, or fridges. We did have electric light though.”

“Oh my goodness Grandma, are you telling me that some people didn’t have electricity..?”

“That’s right my dear.”

“So, do you feel lonely at Christmas these days..?

“In some respects I do. As Christmas comes then goes, we then have to re-arrange our lives as we approach New Year. It was always the same year over year – Christmas just arrived and it was predictable, but New Year was a scary time. We didn’t know what a New Year would bring. You see, we had very little information or news about what was going on in the world. My heavens, we didn’t know what was going on in the next village sometimes.”

“But why was that scary.?”

“Well, because we often heard of things that had happened in faraway places. People fighting, or people less poor than us, or natural disasters, and so forth. Of course we would never get the real facts. It would always be “hand-me-down news”, which most often would be blown out of proportion and made to sound worse than it really was.”

“So, as a little girl, you would be scared that it might be true and it might get close to your house. I can understand that. Do you still feel like that..?”

“Not really I suppose, but I do still have memories of how it felt to not know. Of course these days, we do have instant communications and we can see things happening at the other side of the world as they happen. But, as we approach New Year, I still become very melancholy and concerned about what will happen next year. It just seems such a big leap from the next “day” to the next “year”. I probably still can’t work it out.”

“But I’m here Grandma and I’ll help you.”

“You’re right, and I am very grateful. Back then someone else was the Grandma and they had the responsibility of shouldering the unknown. Now it’s my turn, and there’s really no-one to share the burden with … well apart from you of course. I’m sure there are many, many old fogies like me, around the world who feel the same. Being lonely at this time of year is difficult.”

“As the joy of Christmas disappears, the fear of the New Year fast approaches.

At this time of year, the “Betwixt and Between” as I call it, really is very unsettling. I really should know better at this age, but I still have many memories of times past. You’d think I’d be over it by now, but I’m not.”

“Grandma, if it helps, I love you”

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