For thirty years my mother has lived in a large farmhouse in the West Country, complete with roaring fire, Aga, and enough bedrooms to allow dozen guests to stay. When my stepfather was alive they hosted huge garden parties, intimate dinners, you name it. And never was the house as full of love and laughter as at Christmas, when my brothers and I would drive down the M4 to celebrate with them. As we grew older, so young offspring came too, and in recent years there have been three generations enjoying yuletide together.
Sadly, three years ago my stepfather passed away and since then the house has felt too big for my mother. Moreover, she has just turned eighty, so now it no longer seems right that I'm over two hours' away. As a result she's bought a flat and soon will be coming to live near my husband and me in Brighton. But whilst Mum's new place is lovely, it's much smaller, so she won't be able host guests en masse.
We each reacted to the news this Christmas was to be our last in the ancient farmhouse differently. My niece, Polly (10), burst into tears at once, while her cousin, Tessie (9), told me she'd lain awake 'for hours and hours all sad' about it. It's no wonder they're upset: the place has been a large part of all our life stories. Polly and I made her first cake with her standing on a chair to reach the work surface; Tessie has spent hours sitting at the kitchen table writing and drawing.
I too have been anxious about the change, and on my first night in the house this Christmas, I was too shaken to sleep. And as I lay there, I reflected on how I've dealt with endings in the past, and remembered that I usually shy away from them. It was then I decided to try something different, and to mark this ending. So I made a suggestion the following morning, and tomorrow – in the last of my blogs on the subject – I'll tell you what it was...
A Moodscope user.
P.S Yesterday I also blogged about endings.