First posted MyT 25.10.08
I have amazed myself by being so well ahead of the game this year. Usually, I start shopping for her presents at about 1.30 pm on Christmas Eve then wrap them about 3 am on the morning itself. For thirty-six years, I have enjoyed that frisson of sheer terror as I rushed around the closing shops, trying to find anything that approximated to what she had made it quite clear that she was expecting as a surprise.
This year, a fresh start in a semi-retirement job and, as new (ancient) kid on the block, I was on duty until 5.30 pm. I had knocked the whole present thing on the head by 7 pm on the 23rd. Absolutely no adrenalin rush but a satisfying feeling of duty having been done. I decided to compound it all by actually having the presents wrapped before midnight.
At 11.45 pm, I realised that I had left one in the car so went out to get it. Slight frosty sparkle on the pavement and rain on my cheek that felt like it was thinking of turning into snow. For some reason, I thought of Stefania.
Then I remembered. Last year, she blogged about the winter of 1962. I had commented by telling her the tale of the Great Turkey Chase. I went back and found her blog:-
I was sorry to see that most of my comment has been lost in the Great Leap Sideways when MyT sold its soul to the Devil and/or Oklahoma. So, you’re going to get a rehashed version.
For me, Christmas Day 1962 will always be the day of the Great Turkey Chase. We lived up a hill on the outskirts of my home town at the top of an unmade road. My Dad had not been able to get the car up the hill to the house because of the snow. Being my Dad, he had kept trying until he had reduced the entire road surface to pure ice and had had to admit defeat.
Our family tradition was for all of my Mum’s family to have Christmas lunch together – 19 of us in my Auntie Jean’s terraced council house in Fife. We had the only oven big enough for the turkey so my Mum would start cooking it half way through the night and wrap it up in tinfoil. We would then drive the thirty miles to Auntie Jean’s .
So, that morning, we set off down the garden path – Dad was carrying the foil-wrapped turkey on a tray. As he came out of the garden gate, he slipped and dropped it.
It landed perfectly and took off down the hill. We picked my Dad up and set off in pursuit, but it was like trying to run down the Cresta. The turkey easily outpaced us and would undoubtedly have got into the Guinness Book of Records if (a) either one of the McWhirter twins had been there to time it and (b) it had not failed to negotiate the bend in the road and flown off into the hedge.
We pulled it out, dusted it off and re-wrapped it. My mother, being my mother and a good pragmatic Scot, said ‘You’ll eat a peck of dirt before you die.’
We were, of course, sworn to secrecy and the rest of the family have never heard the tale of the Great Turkey Chase.
I still miss Stefania and I hope that her family are sharing happy memories of her today.
Happy Christmas to everbody on MyT.