Friday, 21 December 2018

I did part of the Christmas biscuit run

I am sure you know the sort of thing I mean. This is one of the rare occasions I bake - as opposed to cook.
I am not really interested in baking. The Senior Cat and I eat very little of that sort of thing - with an exception I will mention shortly. 
But it is a sort of tradition that several people I know get shortbread or gingerbread biscuits for Christmas.  It's just a few biscuits and a card.
I do it because they live alone and, however they might feel about Christmas, they need to know that other people care about them. And no, this is not "good" of me. I do it because I feel guilty if I don't do it. I have a family Christmas. It wouldn't matter if I didn't get a single present - although we will almost certainly exchange books - I simply have somewhere to go. 
Years ago when I was in London I had nowhere to go one Christmas and I was invited to the home of someone who is now a priest in the Church of England. I intended to go but I never made it because, in the interim, a young and very homesick African student fell off a bus. It was one of those old style buses and his hand slipped from the pole as he was about to step up. The bus jerked off. He fell. Fortunately he was not too badly hurt but he was badly bruised and grazed.  He wanted someone to be with him. Most people had left the student residence we were living in. Other people had somewhere to go - and they went. 
Of course most people were not even aware that anything had happened.  I did know because one of his fellow Zambians was supposed to take some fresh clothes over to him. That young man simply handed them over to me and left to catch a train. He "didn't like hospitals."
So I went. I didn't go to Christmas with my friend's family. I know they were prepared to put themselves out so that I could still join them but I didn't feel comfortable about leaving him alone and in pain. I hope S.... understood that back then. I am not sure I made myself very clear. I was upset and disappointed but I thought then - and now - that I had no choice.
Fast forward to the present day and that young student is now the head of a big school in Zambia. Each year I get a card reminding me of our Christmas together. 
And each year it reminds me that I was the lucky one because, even though I didn't do as I planned, I had somewhere to go. 
So yesterday I pedalled off. I did the first half of the biscuit run. Today I will attempt to do the second half. I will also call in at the local convent and leave some flowers for our friend P.... and her housemate B... because two days ago they lost the other member of their household J...  When P... rang to give me the news she said,
    "M... (who lives in another cottage on the premises) came over and suggested we cancel Christmas celebrations. I told her "No" because J.... would not want that. What if people had nowhere to go?"
And that's it. It's having somewhere to go - or be - with others.

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