“The thing is,” says Pa, “every now and then, Sainsbury’s have an offer on chocolate oranges. Three for the price of two, that sort of thing. So…” He waves a hand in the general direction of the bed and shrugs.
The bed in the box-room at Ma and Pa’s house is stacked with an assortment of what I guess supermarkets would call ‘stocking fillers’. Post-it notes, socks, sherbert lemons, scented candles, tins of gin, chocolate raisins, pens, home-made Ma-malade and chocolate oranges. Many, many chocolate oranges. All the chocolate oranges, in fact.
ActorLaddie’s nephew, Alan-in-Australia, when he phoned to give his condolences, mentioned that he’d had a fancy for a chocolate orange the other day but none were to be found anywhere in Sydney. That’s how many chocolate oranges are in the box-room.
Ma adored Christmas. A few years ago, we moved to getting Secret Santa presents for the family adults. Ma took part in this, of course, but then also spent the year buying ‘little bits’ for gift bags or stockings which would appear mysteriously under the tree for tea time on Christmas Day.
So now, four days before Christmas, on what would have been Ma’s 89th birthday, dammit, LittleSis and I face a bedful of assorted ‘little bits’, a dozen or so empty gift bags and the task of working out what was intended for whom.
Compared to what will need doing in the weeks ahead – after the coroner and Christmas and so on – this ought to be one of the less tricky tasks. Certainly compared to yesterday’s trauma (999, CPR), this is a walk in the park. But we still owe it to Ma to get it right.
So. Post-it notes to the students. Ma-malade to the men. Socks to the women. Sherbert lemons to Young Lochinvar. Chocolate raisins to LittleBro. Chocolate oranges to everyone. And the gin?
There are two cans of gin left when everything else has been shared out. LittleSis and I take one each.
It’s what Ma would have wanted.