The brother-in-law and the sister-in-law and their brood arrived this afternoon. The children's playing fill the house with hectic joy, and I can trace their movements from the squeals they make as they explore the house. The niece yells, Daddy!, and my heart squeezes, hard.
I am fat on roast beef, mash, and gravy. Plum pudding with custard and whipped brandy cream, all soaked in more brandy. Sugar and booze and fat: all of that makes the hours more bearable.
During the Christmas season, the bar rules our thoughts. Rising wearily in the dull afternoon, we run errands, attend to emergencies, prep the bar. I open the bar, lighting candles and cutting lemons and waiting for the first customer to arrive, when the long night begins, when the public fills the underbelly of our vast house with noise and unruly desire.
It’s appropriate, then, that my husband’s name is a variation of the Celtic god of the underworld, and here I am, Persephone, dreaming of the solitude of vast golden fields under endless blue skies.
I like best the hour I have before husband and mother-in-law rise. I feed the dog and make a cup of coffee and take it upstairs to my bed. Coiled around itself like a sleeping dragon, the house is silent for once, except for the step that creaks under my foot as I climb the staircase, one vertebra at a time. Back in bed, I read an essay online, sipping my coffee, and I savour this calm and measured connection to the outside world.