It took seven months for the envelope to get from Ireland to Hungary. For seven months, the small package languished in the bowels of some postal repository patiently waiting its turn. For seven months, I occasionally wondered if I’d ever see it. And then it turned up.
Each year for as long as I can remember, the inimitable DD has carved one in a series of wooden Christmas tree ornaments. At the N-M’s annual Christmas gathering, he hands them out to a chorus of oohs and ahhs, tissue paper eagerly unwrapped to reveal that year’s delicacy. No one knows what theme he chooses or how intricate the carving will be. They differ each year.
I’ve been bugging him for ages to put the year on them so that my orderly mind and my penchant for collecting things will be satisfied that I have a full set. But he does and he doesn’t. It’s all as random as the carvings themselves.
Technically, you have to be at the gathering to get your ornament but he can be swayed by sob stories and creative excuses. On the rare occasion I’ve missed one, I’ve managed to get my hands on that year’s collectable. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it.
In 2020, COVID being what COVID is, there was no gathering. I wasn’t even in Ireland. Christmas was different. Not better. Not worse. Just different.
As I dressed the tree though in the village and told the story of DD’s Christmas carvings, pointing out the series of ornaments I’d amassed over the years, I wondered if there’d be one to mark the year most of us would like to forget. I was assured it had been mailed. For a while, I checked the post eagerly but then hope faded and I figured my ornament, like other stuff that had gone AWOL over the Christmas period, had been offered up to the postal gods in part-payment for the packages that had gotten through.
And then it came and brought with it a measure of cool.
It’s in the thirties here today but there’s a breeze that takes the sting out of the sun. It’s July. But today it’s Christmas in our house. Memories of the annual gatherings over the years have come flooding back. With a gap in the annual catch-ups, I’m left wondering what people have been up to. Where they are now. What has changed in their lives. I’m tempted to defrost a small turkey and have a proper Christmas dinner but it’s too bloody hot. I’ll settle for a cold turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce, accompanied by a whiskey/marmalade cocktail, and a scoop of mincemeat ice cream that’s nestled in the back of the freezer.
Am grateful for the memories and for Magyar Posta and An Post not giving up. And to the lovelies DD and RN for making it all possible.