Wednesday, 1 December 2010

White Thanksgiving

It was the Thanksgiving that almost wasn't.  We'd invited 40, expected 30, got 9.  Almost continual snow for the past few days meant the roads were bad.  Snow that sticks is pretty unusual around here, snow this early even more so.

Snow during a recession, I guessed, meant that the council would be watching their budgets and using gritters only if unavoidable.  Apparently it was avoidable, not that they would do our road anyhow.  We aren't on a bus route, so our road would stay snowed, but we were no different to anyone else, it seems. 

All day, as we finished cooking and cleaning, the phone rang:  
  • Helen phoned first, saying she and Martin didn't think the drive from Manchester was do-able.  Even if that worked, they were going to stay at her Mom's in Woolsingham, a small town at least an hour away in ideal conditions.  This meant not only the loss of Martin but also brother Simon, my two biggest eaters.  I could see leftovers piling up already.
  • Neela rang.  She was full of cold, they weren't coming (I could hear it in her voice, glad she didn't bring her germs).
  • Janet had just recovered from slipping and chipping her elbow, afraid to risk another fall on the ice on the few hundred metres to the Metro.
  • John came to the house, rather than phoning, which made me think the roads were OK.  His  sister-in-law was in hospital with a hip replacement; she'd had really bad reaction to medications and went wild, with two security men and two police constables called in to restrain her (not bad for a 60-year-old, I'm impressed).  John's brother needed help, so they would be sitting with the sister-in-law that evening, not eating Thanksgiving dinner. 
  • Bill's cousin called to say they couldn't get out of the house and were staying in.  She can barely walk from bunion surgery anyhow, so no surprise there.
  • Vivien rang, sounding really distressed, Bill said.  They were all dressed and ready to come, but couldn't get their car out;  the entire estate was essentially snowed in.
On top of all that Bill and I, who usually work together as a practiced team for this event, couldn't seem to agree on anything.  What I wanted to change for this year, he wanted the same; his ideas didn't suit me either.  We probably had more arguments in one day than we normally have in months.  I was finding it a thoroughly miserable day with not a lot of gratitude floating around.  The amount of work still to be done was a blessing, though, as I had to focus on the next item on the 'to do' list.

Once we got to the showering and dressing stage, things seemed to iron out and when the guests arrived I was content again, grateful for each and every person who came through the door! Bob brought his car, but couldn't get out to go home so he slept on our couch.  Bill's cousin Mike, brought Christine in the car to their nearest station then came to us on the Metro to avoid part of the drive.  All the others who made it lived near the Metro and just bundled up and put on their wellies (more British baby-talk).  

The neighbours behind us, George and Elsie, managed to join us.  Mind, Elsie's asthma was pretty bad and as soon as they came in she sat on the stairs to use her inhaler and recover from her 100-yard walk. We've not invited neighbours before, but I'd long intended to change that.  I finally did put notes through doors this year and - unlike email invites - got replies from all, though mostly no's.  Dave and Sarah were already committed to a dinner dance in Ponteland, as he is president of the golf club.  If they got back and we were still partying, they'd drop by.  Kathryn had to work the night shift and Ian was too shy to come on his own. Mike had surgery scheduled for that day.  Anne was going down to London to visit her son.  Elsie wasn't sure she'd be up to it but later on George let us know they would definitely come.  

They've lived in their house for 47 years and could tell us all about the neighbours and how long they'd lived there, including who had my house before.   The young couple I bought it from had gone to Liverpool; the older lady before them, Miss Creighton, whose father built this house in 1920 (theirs was built in 1918), had been headmistress of the local school, where I go sewing now.   We chatted away for hours and I could see they were having a good time, sitting together in Grandmother's 1930's love seat (the name tickled them) in front of the fire.  George was an engineer with a marine parts firm and though he is in his 80s we see him most days setting off for a walk at a clip I'd have to work to keep up with.  Bill has seen George miles away when out on a run himself.  Though he seems to stay closer to home with Elsie unwell, he still goes out for a paper and watching him walk I'd put him at 20 years younger than he is.  A recipe for health, no doubt.   I have to say that visiting with this couple gave me enormous pleasure and made up for the rest of the day.

With most folks travelling by Metro, the party ended slightly earlier than usual.  We were in bed around midnight.  It had all gone reasonably well, considering. Bob had no trouble pulling out the next morning.  He rang when he got home to say that none of the roads had been cleared, just the bright sun had improved the conditions.  

Monday morning we had a storm; I saw the lightning out the corner of my eye and thought it was a reflection from my computer screen.  Then the thunder made me think someone was doing 6:30 am?  Though it rains a lot here, thunder and lightening are rare events.  It was over soon, swiftly moving.  I thought the rain might rescue us from the snow, but it was soon sleet and then help there then.

So, Thanksgiving over, now I'm ready to pull out the task list for Christmas.  I wonder if it is going to be White as well?


Pug1 said...

Hi Shelley, I'm Michele! I enjoyed reading about your Thanksgiving! I live in the suburbs of Chicago we're just getting our first snowfall today! How long have you been living in England? CHEERS!

Shelley said...

Hello, Pug. Nice to meet you. I've been in England for 15 years now (my how time flies!).