Well, that’s December and Christmas gone. I can hardly believe that, somehow or other, all the shopping, cooking, planning, writing and agonising over gifts actually ended positively. And it all seemed to go so smoothly along with the panic of the season which somehow is part of the fun. I bet I’m not the only one feeling like this. Of course, the seasonal rush wasn’t helped by the onset of Siberian weather for some of us in the Midlands and other parts of the UK. It all started on a Sunday which, for those of us who didn’t have to get to work, was quite exciting and fun but by Wednesday, it wasn’t funny anymore. I had five diary entries cancelled which made me a bit cross; I don’t like to let anything stand in the way of my plans, particularly all my keep fit and exercise classes. Thank goodness for the Move It DVDs; always at hand when needed. The snow also meant that I didn’t use the car. The village bus (one an hour) struggled to keep time but at least it did turn up and using public transport has distinct advantages. It meant that I had a chance to chat with neighbours and friends at the bus stop and then just look out of the window while the driver coped with heavy traffic and the usual frustrations of queuing while watching the time go by. Lots of walking was involved which was nice and there was the added challenge of trying to stay upright. Another reason to keep up the sit to stand exercise which helps to keep the legs strong.
Lots did go ahead, mostly involving traditional meetings and meals with friends, reserving the actual holiday for family. As a vegetarian, the menu choices used to be somewhat limited but it’s now apparent that the catering industry is taking alternative dishes seriously and I enjoyed some really wonderful meals (too much and too many of course but it’s the season for celebration, isn’t it?)
Only one leftover from November. On the 30th I had the pleasure of going to Symphony Hall in Birmingham for a wonderful concert. This is one of the joys of being a member of my local U3A. They have a concerts club so it was all organised. For very little expense, we were collected by coach and dropped right at the door of the venue and again, afterwards, transported back to where our cars were parked. It reminded me of the universal appeal of music. It’s the only art form which is universal – no language barrier interferes with the understanding although of course, different cultures enjoy differing types of music. It was another really cold day but I got back home still glowing from a lovely afternoon’s experience.
On the 7th December, again through the U3A, I saw the old Christmas Film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. I’m now a member of the Film Club. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this film. It was first shown in 1947 in black and white with James Stewart as the star. Although it’s so old-fashioned and acting styles have now become more natural, its message came through loud and clear. It has now been remastered in colour and although it was two hours long, I was sorry when the lights went back up at the end. I’m so glad I joined U3A when I moved to my new home some six years ago. I’ve had such interesting days and gained so many new friends and acquaintances. I recommend it – there’s something for everyone.
And good news. The shortest day of the year was 21st of December so lots of brighter days ahead. For Awareness this time I’ve chosen 21st January, which is National Hug Day. What a lovely idea; I think we’re generally a reserved bunch but I think hugging is good – makes us feel appreciated and it’s a token of affection when given and received.
Such good news on Julie’s progress. I know she’s been working really hard on getting back to full recovery so watch out everyone. She’ll be back to A1 early in the New Year, helping everyone to recover from the festivities in her usual enthusiastic way.
On 21st another new experience for me. Cath Mackie, BBC Midlands TV reporter, came to my home to film me as I talked to the camera on the subject of advice I would give to myself when I was 21 after a lifetime’s experiences. I had prepared a whole page of notes and this, combined with several questions from her, took over an hour to record. What was slightly unsettling was the fact that she used her mobile ‘phone mounted on a tripod as a camera and this was very near to my face. What a good job I had spent quite some time before her arrival making sure I had used as much war paint as was reasonable. Not only do I find the use of her mobile a total mystery, but the programme isn’t going out on TV – it’ll be on the internet! How does that work? It won’t be shown until sometime in the New Year as Cath is interviewing several people, so I’ve got time ask my children/grandchildren how the magic works.
Well, the 25th came and went. For me, it was a flurried mix of visiting family and I managed to get to see my children and their families on the day, which was quite an achievement logistically. I spent the 26th preparing for the annual invasion to my home of family and friends on the 27th. I spent a lovely day cooking and preparing a buffet. I catered for 14 (well, you know, just a tad too much really) and the 27th was a wonderful time for me. The house was bursting at the seams with people, food and a lot of laughter. Much of the laughter came from the fact that the BBC reporter had asked me to produce some photos of myself aged 21 so I used the family’s presence to ask them to dig into two huge plastic crates of pictures going back into the mists of time. And what a revelation that exercise was and how we laughed!! I loved every minute of it but was glad to have the 28th to regroup before meeting a friend for lunch in Birmingham the next day. So, here we are, at the end of another year. It was a mixture of personal happiness and national sadness for me which I suppose applies to all of us.
Wishing you all good health and happiness in 2018. I hope it’s filled with good things for you.
21 year old Ann.
If you could, what advice would you give to yourself at 21 years old?