You know that awful feeling when you get off a train or a bus and realise, as it shunts out of the station or pulls into the distance, that you’ve left your bag/wallet/diary/top secret files/jacket on the shelf above the seat? We’ve all done it. That was exactly the kind of feeling I had last week.
Something was missing. I’d been telling myself they were in a box in a wardrobe for sometime. Then after a thorough search of all the boxes in the house, (because there are still some lurking filled with things that belong in an attic or a cellar) I had to admit what I was looking for was not in the house. As I lay in bed that night, I suddenly realised where they must be… the garage or one of the outside stores, of course. The next day it was raining so I put off the search until it stopped. The garage proved only to be hiding wetsuits, golf clubs and boxes of other ‘stuff’ – not what I was looking for. The outside stores also failed to deliver. There was still one other place to look and later that evening I persuaded someone to help me explore another room of stacked furniture where I assumed the missing boxes must be. After half an hour it was obviously a hopeless cause. I returned home heavy-hearted and offended by the twinkling lights on a neighbour’s Christmas tree…
Somewhere between Nottingham, Cyprus and Thorny Island two boxes of Christmas decorations had disappeared and that meant no olive wood crib scene, no wooden centre piece with candles and no pretty baubles and snagged stockings hanging over the fireplace. I felt so sad I almost wished I had left something important on a train instead.
There was still one small crumb of hope. Setting aside the possibility that they had been thrown out with the rubbish, I wondered if they were in someone’s attic. Strange idea perhaps, but we had left a few bits and pieces in the attics of family and friends… and there was a list. A list I had carefully made with items in the roof. If I could find the list and spot ‘Christmas stuff’ written down, there may be hope yet. But where was the list? Another hour or two of searching through papers and boxes and files delivered another big fat nothing. We were living with the uncertainty that the boxes might be up in Nottingham, but we had no evidence and no list to assure us. A few days later I rifled through another stack of papers on the desk and flicked through an old notebook. There was the list – written in fairly illegible scrawl – but it was the list and amazingly, ‘Christmas stuff’ was the fifth item on the second page! Hallelujah!
I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard the boxes had eventually been found at the back of the roof and I was more than happy to help unload them from the car yesterday after they had been picked up en route. Now Christmas can come and I can ice the cake and scrape crumbling mince pies out of their tins without that sinking feeling that something isn’t right because I’ve left my decorations on a train. I know ‘Christmas starts with Christ’ – but it also kind of begins with decorations… if that’s not too heretical?